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Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in eye care. Ophthalmology is a surgical subspecialty. Ophthalmologists are licensed by provincial medical boards to practice medicine and are certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Ophthalmologists are certified to:
Optometrists must complete a 3- to 4-year Bachelor of Science degree and a 4-year Doctor of Optometry degree before passing an exam by the Optometry Examining Board of Canada. Some optometrists also do a residency or fellowship training.
Optometrists provide most vision care services in Alberta. In all provinces, optometrists diagnose and treat eye diseases and prescribe therapeutic drugs. Alberta optometrists are certified to:
Opticians are skilled technicians. They do not test vision, prescribe corrective lenses, or diagnose or treat eye diseases. All provinces require completion of a 1- to 4-year training program. Opticians can complete more training to become licensed to test vision and fit contact lenses. Opticians can:
Both ophthalmologists and optometrists can diagnose refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, and prescribe corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses.
Both ophthalmologists and optometrists can diagnose and treat disorders that affect the eye. Ophthalmologists can perform surgical treatment.
Eye exams for people under age 19 and over age 64 are covered by Alberta Health Care. Medically necessary services for all ages are covered by Alberta Health Care, but there may be costs you have to pay yourself. See the full list of coverage for vision care in Alberta.
Adaptation Date: 10/6/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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