Ophthalmologists are licensed to perform medicine and surgery. They diagnose and treat a wider range of conditions than optometrists. They also recognize other health problems that are not directly related to the eye.

Typical training includes completion of a four-year college degree followed by four years of professional education leading to the doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO) degree. A one-year clinical post-graduate program is then completed followed by a three-year residency program in ophthalmology. Ophthalmologists can also complete one or two years of additional fellowship in a subspecialty (e.g. glaucoma or neuro-ophthalmology).

Ophthalmologists are the main resource of potential referral for low vision since they address retinal and neurological pathology determining the common causes. The ophthalmologist will be the first healthcare professionals that an individual with a vision problem will see (or an optometrist, see tab), they will diagnose and treat the eye disease with medication and/or surgery. If at any case, their methods of intervention do not restore and/or regain vision, the diagnosis will then be classified as low vision. The ophthalmologist then refers the client to a healthcare profession that can provide further evaluations and rehabilitation. Ophthalmologists can provide low vision evaluation and provide the order for Medicare-reimbursed occupational therapy.

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