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Optometry vs. Ophthalmology- Should I be worried that the MDs will take over the ODs?

I am interested in pursuing Optometry, which means I would need to take the OAT, and go into Optometry school. However, if you go through with Medical school, and the MCAT, one could become an Ophthalmologist. I don't want to begin following the Optometry route if the MDs could take over the jobs, leaving me with nothing. I understand that an MD can perform surgery as well as the general check-ups, which is why I am hesitant seeing as they can do more than the Optometrist (except for those few cases if you get your TPG, TPL, or TLG attached to your license). Should I worried? Should I just go through with medical school and become an Ophthalmologist instead? #medicine #healthcare #employment #optometry #ophthalmologist #optometrist

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Stephanie’s Answer

From my understanding, ophthalmology is highly competitive and involves many more years of residency/fellowship after graduating from medical school, especially if you are looking to go into surgery. Although ophthalmologists (OMDs) have more privileges, they often choose a specialty and see patients with conditions in those specific parts of the eyes, for example: retina, strabismus, cataracts, etc.

Nowadays, a lot of ophthalmologists employ optometrists (ODs) to do the routine, primary care procedures such as examining patients for glasses/contacts and pre/post-operative follow ups. If you're worried that everyone is going to be fixed with LASIK and no one will need glasses, that is most certainly not the case, since not every single person is a candidate for those kinds of procedures, can afford it, etc. so there is always a need for ODs. Several states (such as Oklahoma and Kentucky) have actually increased the scope of practice for ODs to include minor laser procedures within the last few years, so ODs are slowly getting to do more.

My advice is for you to spend a good amount of time shadowing OMDs in various specialties as well as ODs with various specialities to get different opinions and to see what would best suit your goals.
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Jessica’s Answer

As an optician, I see many more patients that have seen an optometrist instead of the ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologists are usually not as good with glasses rxs, as they focus more on a medical specialty or treatment.
I feel they are pretty different in practice and have a different patient demographic so I do not think you should worry about job security.
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Estelle’s Answer

My daughter is a 4th year optometry student. There are definitely heated discussions about which boundaries belong in which field. However, the ophthalmologists in practice tend to rely on optometrists for routine eye care and referrals, so the actual real life relationships are much better. Optometrists tend to focus on eye correction and screening exams while referring corrective surgery to the ophthalmologists.
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