An ophthalmologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases and injuries of the eyes. Most ophthalmologists are also eye surgeons. They perform a variety of operations, such as reattaching retinas, removing cataracts, relieving pressure caused by glaucoma, and repairing blood vessel ruptures and other injuries.

Ophthalmologists have a background in both internal medicine and surgery. This specialty requires an additional three- or four-year residency in ophthalmology after a one-year general internship before specialty board examinations may be taken.


There are allied health-care workers who are often referred to as "eye doctors" but who are not medical doctors and therefore are not permitted to treat diseases of the eyes or to prescribe medication. An optometrist tests the eyes for the purpose of fitting a person with glasses or contact lenses. An optician makes and fits glasses according to the ophthalmologist's or the optometrist's specifications. An ocularist performs the task of fitting artificial eyes.

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