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Know Your ‘O’s: The Different Types Of Eye Specialists

Dr. Khurram Nafees

2 min read

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In Pakistan, the term ‘Eye Specialist’ is an all-encompassing term used generously to describe doctors that specialize in matters of the eye. There are broadly two types of Eye specialists in fact, namely: Ophthalmologists and Optometrists; a little-known fact among the general populace and even most medical students.

When To See An Eye Specialist?

Vision is a very important sense we possess. Our whole lives depend on seeing from work to leisure. Without it, our whole perception of the world can change.

There are multiple issues that can lead to eye problems. You are more prone to an eye disease of some family member has it. Some of the eye diseases appear suddenly, at times without clear symptoms.

Therefore, it is crucial that you visit an eye specialist i.e. an ophthalmologist if you face any problems with your sight, especially if you are over forty years of age.

Let’s go over some of the common causes of eye problems. These are risk factors that can lead to eye conditions. If you have these problems and suspect eye disease, visit your eye doctor as soon as possible.

  • painful eyes;
  • fading vision;
  • double vision;
  • AIDS or HIV;
  • genetic issue;
  • injured eye;
  • bulging eyes;
  • blood pressure issues;
  • Grave’s disease;
  • redness in the eyes;
  • unusual tearing up of the eyes.

These are a few of the risk factors that can cause potential eye damage. Let’s now go discuss the different types of eye specialists.

1- Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmology is ‘a branch of medicine that specializes in the anatomy, function, and diseases of the eye’. It is the older of the two main branches of eye specialisms in Pakistan and requires a 4-year specialization following the general 5-year MBBS degree, with its official title being Eye MD (Medical Doctor) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).

Ophthalmologists offer complete eye care services and are licensed to practice medicinal and surgical procedures. Their repertoire includes diagnosis and treatment of medical eye conditions such as glaucoma, iritis, and chemical burns and surgical treatment for conditions such as crossed eyes, cataracts and glaucoma among others.

Additionally, an ophthalmologist can also treat eye conditions related to other illnesses like arthritis as well as cosmetic procedures, including but not limited to eye-wrinkle removal and raising droopy eyelids.


Certain Eye MDs further concentrate on one of the following sub-Specializations of ophthalmology to enable them in taking expert care in one of the main areas of the eye as well as certain age groups:

  • Retina;
  • Cornea;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Neurology;
  • Pediatrics;
  • Plastic Surgery.

2- Optometrist

A relatively new healthcare degree in Pakistan, Optometry is much like the local dental BDS degree in that it requires 5 years of study independent of general medical studies. An optometrist is officially recognized as DO (Doctor of Optometry).

Unlike ophthalmologists, optometrists cannot perform surgeries and can only provide primary care which includes eye examinations, vision aids and low-vision therapy. They also treat conditions like near and farsightedness, and astigmatism and prescribe eyeglasses as well as contact lenses.

Optometry involves carrying out eye and vision examinations; providing lenses; diagnosing eye inconsistencies; providing medical prescription for some eye problems; and conducting certain surgical processes.

Optometrists are allowed to prescribe medicines in certain cases. However, their primary concern is providing pre- and post-operation care to patients considering surgery.

In addition to Ophthalmologists and Optometrists, there is a third category of Eye Care professionals, known as – Optician

Opticians are optical health care provides who might work in close coordination with an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Not recognized officially as eye-doctors, they are technicians whose primary job is to design and fit glasses, frames and lenses prescribed by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.

As opticians usually complete a 1 or 2-year course or diploma for professional practice recognition, they are not authorized to perform eye exams, prescribe medicines or perform surgery.

Other Eye Specialists

There are eye doctors that specialize in treating conditions related to a particular part of the eye. Let us take a look at a couple of them below.

Retina specialist

A retina specialist treats the retinal area of the eye which is a tissue layered on the backside of the eye. The retina captures the light and signals the brain of the visual formed.

The retinal area can become damaged. A retina specialist can perform surgery to resolve that.

Cornea specialist

A cornea specialist treats the cornea, which is the external layer of protection of the eye. This is the part through which light enters the eye and refracts.

The specialists can diagnose problems like corneal dystrophy or keratitis. They can also conduct surgeries which includes transplant and corneal tattooing among other. They can also help patients with damaged cornea and people who require complex lens application.

Now that you know about the different types of eye specialists, do not hesitate to go to a doctor if you have an eye condition. Book an appointment with a top Optometrist or Ophthalmologist in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Multan through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your visual needs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Khurram Nafees
Dr. Khurram Nafees - Author "Dr. Khurram Nafees is a Eye Surgeon practicing in Lahore. Dr. Khurram Nafees has the following degrees: MBBS, FCPS (Ophthalmology) and has 15 years of experience. Dr. Khurram is a highly experienced eye specialist practicing in Lahore. His patients speak highly of him as it is evident from the reviews he gets. He also has a penchant for writing to increase awareness about common eye problems and the treatments for them. Find the links to his articles below. "
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