If you’re concerned about maintaining healthy vision, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the basics of vision care.

Due to its characteristic complexity, the vision care field can be confusing for the uninitiated, so it’s a good idea to gain some familiarity prior to seeking professional services. In this article, we cover some of the basics, from key industry terms to frequently asked questions.

Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Optician: Differentiating Designations

Optometrists are doctors of optometry who can examine eyes for diseases and vision problems, fit people with glasses and contact lenses, prescribe medications, and provide pre- and post-operative eye surgery care.

Ophthalmologists treat eye conditions and diseases; prescribe medication, eyeglasses and contact lenses; and perform eye exams and surgeries.

Opticians are trained and licensed to fit patients with eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses. They aren’t doctors, but they can use prescriptions written by optometrists or ophthalmologists to help patients enhance their vision.

Four Ways to Preventatively Care for Your Eyes

  1. Go for annual eye exams. Annual eye exams are the most important preventative measure you can take to protect your vision. This is because examinations enable early detection of vision problems, eye diseases and other health-related problems before they become full-blown. Since afflictions like glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts seldom have noticeable early symptoms, without preventative exams, they can be allowed to progress unchecked and cause permanent damage.


  1. Wear protective eyewear. Safety glasses and other forms of protective eyewear help prevent potential injuries while you’re engaged in work or activities that pose a risk, such as wood or metal work and sports like basketball and football. Another important form of protective eyewear is sunglasses, which guard your eyes from harmful UV rays—a major contributor to the development of cataracts, retinal disease and macular degeneration.


  1. Consider the impact of diet and lifestyle. More and more, eye care professionals are finding a connection between general health and eye health. Additionally, since the risk for eye problems increases with age, it’s important to supplement with vitamins and nutrients that support healthy vision (Vitamin A and beta-carotene, Omega-3 essential fatty acids).


  1. Pay attention to new developments. If you notice peripheral flashes of light or new eye floaters (gray or black squiggly lines in your field of vision), see an eye care professional immediately. Although floaters are usually a natural occurrence, in some instances, an influx of new ones may be a precursor to retinal detachment—an emergency situation that can result in substantial vision damage.


Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Is an eye screening equal to an eye examination?
A: No. Eye screenings provided by school nurses, general care doctors, pediatricians and other health care professionals may be helpful as general eyesight checks, but these individuals aren’t trained to identify eye diseases and vision problems.

Q: When should children start having eye exams?
A: Children can have their first vision exams at six months of age, and they should begin having annual eye examinations at age three.

Q: How often should I replace my contact lenses?
A: Your optometrist will be able to recommend a proper replacement schedule for you. Depending on the types of lenses you wear, your replacement schedule may vary from daily, weekly or bi-weekly to monthly, quarterly or even annually.

Q: Why should I choose a Diamond Certified vision care professional?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a vision care professional with confidence by offering a list of practices that have been rated Highest in Quality by the country’s most in-depth rating process. Furthermore, every Diamond Certified company is continuously monitored to ensure they maintain a high rate of customer satisfaction, and each transaction is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee.

To find a Diamond Certified ­­­­vision care professional in your area, click on one of the links below.

Alameda County: Ophthalmologist, Optician, Optometrist
Contra Costa County: Ophthalmologist, Optician, Optometrist
Marin County: Optometrist
Napa County: Optician
San Francisco: Optician
San Mateo County: Optician, Optometrist
Santa Clara County: Ophthalmologist, Optometrist
Sonoma County: Optician, Optometrist

Learn more:
Hungry Eyes: Six Nutrients That Support Healthy Vision and Where to Find Them
Eye Floaters: The Basics
Choosing the Right Sunglasses

19 Responses

  1. Callie Marie says:

    Preventative care for your eyes should be a top priority. My husband suffered from headaches for years before he finally mentioned it to an optometrist. It turned out he had a disorder where one of his eyes couldn’t focus. He was given a special prescription and several visual exercises to try, and now he hardly ever gets those headaches again. Thanks for the great tips for eye care.

  2. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing this advice on taking care of your eyes. I definitely agree that it is very important to prevent problems before they can do too much damage to your vision and health. In fact, I think that I am going to schedule an appointment with an optometrist for my family tonight, especially if kids should have their first exam around six months. The last thing I want is for my kids to be unhealthy!

  3. I had no idea that there was so much diversity among doctors in the eye care field. I just recently went to my optometrist and I have to get my first pair of contacts! He actually mentioned a bit about diet and lifestyle so it’s funny you should mention it. I guess I’ll have to be more careful from now on!

  4. Fred Summers says:

    I think it is interesting how much diet and lifestyle impact the eyes. There will never not be a need for optometrists because later in life so many people develop diabetes. The impact on the eyes for diabetes is tremendous. That relationship between health and the eyes is becoming more and more apparent.

  5. Deanna R. Jones says:

    Paying attention to new developments in your eyes seems important to know if it may be time to see an eye doctor. Changes in vision like a significant increase in eye floaters or blurry vision are indicators that you may need to do something to improve your eyes. My mother told me that she was seeing so many floaters in her vision that it was affecting her eyesight. That seems like a great reason to take her to the eye doctor to find out why she’s suddenly started seeing so many floaters.

  6. Seth Ashford says:

    Thanks for sharing this advice on taking care of your eyes. As the father of three kids, it is really important to me that they are healthy in every aspect possible. In fact, this makes me want to make an appointment for eye exams for them. It has been a long time since they’ve had one, though, so I might have to try finding a new optometrist.

  7. Steven Harrison says:

    I like your third tip. People sometimes don’t recognize that multiple departments of medicine are inter-related. It’s an odd thing to miss, but somehow, people feel justified in googling their symptoms, and accepting whatever diagnosis they find. A little humility can go a long way.

  8. June Robinson says:

    I really appreciate this information on some basic optometry questions. I just recently started wearing glasses and contact lenses, and this really helps my understanding of what it is that is happening with my eyes. I never realized until reading this that diet and lifestyle could have such an impact of the health of one’s eyes, and I will definitely start watching what I eat more carefully after this. Thanks for the information!

  9. Callie Marie says:

    I never thought about the difference between optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians before. Recently I have been having blurry vision. It isn’t all the time, and my prescription is fine, so I was wondering what could cause that. Would it be better to see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for a diagnosis?

  10. June Robinson says:

    I really appreciate this information on the basics of what optometry is. My family all has good eye sight, but my daughter just found out she needs to start wearing glasses, and we are pretty new to all of this. Because of that, I appreciate that this has some simple ideas to have good eye health. I really like that this explains the different of an eye screening and an eye examination. Thanks for the information!

  11. Wendy Cartright says:

    This is great information about optometrists. I liked the number one preventative care you mentioned, getting annual eye exams. Not only can annual visits help detect eye diseases, but it can help detect something as small as a change in vision. Eye health is something that many of us do not think about on a regular basis, but it is extremely important.

  12. Eliza Cranston says:

    Thanks for the advice on maintaining eye health! I have pretty good vision so I always forget to visit the optometrist, but it sounds like I should try to have a yearly exam. Do you know if there have been any studies on the way diet and lifestyle effect your eye health? I’m a vegan who is very interested in the link between my diet and my overall health.

  13. Veronica Marks says:

    Wow, I honestly had no idea that an ophthalmologist, optician, and optometrist were different! I have always considered them to be synonymous for the same profession. It helps to understand what each one does because now I’ll know better what type of professional to contact for different needs. Thanks for a great article!

  14. James Hobusch says:

    I really like how this article differentiates Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, and Opticians. I get the three confused far to often and this article provides helpful information to help me remember. Thanks for sharing this article, it has been extremely helpful.

  15. Cohen Jacobson says:

    I think I ought to schedule an appointment to update the prescription on my contacts. I’ve noticed over the years they’ve become a little bit blurry and I can’t see as far as I used to. It’s been about ten years so I might be really (really) overdue for a visit. Thanks for the really informative article on eye care.

  16. Breck Lewis says:

    I really like how you said that, “are doctors of optometry who can examine eyes for diseases and vision problems.” A lot of people don’t realize that they are not just there to see how good your eye vision is, but to also examine for potential diseases. I finally went it to get my eyes checked the other day and realize that I’m blind when it comes to night driving. This would explain a lot why I have a harder time seeing when it’s night time. In the long run would I be better off with laser eye surgery?

  17. Jake White says:

    My father in law is an optometrist, and he recommended that I look into it as a career. I enjoyed reading this article, and I liked the frequently asked questions section. It seems like a great field, and I will definitely keep considering it so thanks for sharing!

  18. Nora Moore says:

    That’s a good idea to eat healthy things to help your eyes and overall health. To be honest, I could probably wear sunglasses a little more often. Since I switch between my glasses and contacts, I can wear sunglasses with the latter. But I don’t have prescription sunglasses. Maybe I should get some next time I see the eye doctor.

  19. Jordan Jorgenson says:

    Thanks for your post. I think the biggest thing I struggle with to keep my eyes healthy is seeing my optometrist annually. It isn’t because it is hard to go, but because it is hard to remember when I need to set an appointment. If I were to have any eye afflictions such as gloucoma, would not seeing my optometrist for more than a year make a really big difference?

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