What is Optometry?

Optometry investigates visual function and ocular health. As the word itself is etymologically, optometry is primarily concerned with vision measurement and is an independent and autonomous profession in the field of health. Studies in optometric schools are university-level and include extensive training, both theoretical and practical, in the areas of optics, physiology, neurology and pathology related to vision. The main object of optometry is the diagnosis, recovery and treatment of visual dysfunctions at each level with the help of glasses, contact lenses, filters, low vision aids and personalized recovery programs. In some countries, optometrists may use pharmaceutical preparations or perform a limited range of interventions. An optometrist is able to recognize many pathological conditions, but their treatment should be done exclusively or in cooperation with the field of ophthalmology.

According to the definition of the European Council of Optometry and Optics (ECOO): “Optometry is an autonomous profession in the field of health, which requires training and is governed by certain rules, that is, it is exercised exclusively by graduates of recognized schools who have obtained a license to practice the profession. Optometrists perform primary health care of the eye and vision, which includes refraction (and prescribing), selection and treatment of appropriate “refractive aids”, diagnosis and management of ophthalmic diseases, and restoration of vision at normal levels. ”

Optician or Optometrist?

Optics are related to optometry. Many optometrists have studied optics as well or have the uniform title of optician – optometrist, depending on the educational institution they attended. However, this does not mean that every optician is  an optometrist because its curriculum may not meet the needs of the profession. Opticians deal with the performance of prescriptions, whether glasses and optical devices or contact lenses, but also with the marketing of all kinds of optical items.

Ophthalmology is a specialty of medicine and ophthalmologists are the most specialised for the management of any pathology that occurs in the ophthalmic system. Their therapeutic interventions, in addition to eyeglasses, may additionally be either pharmaceutical or surgical.

Optometric examinations

Optometrists have a variety of diagnostic tests that, if applicable, control all or part of the following:

– Eye health

– Visual acuity

– Refractive status

– Ocular movement

– Binocular Vision

– Near Adjustment

– Visual fields

– Color vision

– Visual perception

– Opto-kinetic cooperation, etc.

In Greece, optometrists do not use therapeutic eye drops or other pharmaceutical preparations during the examination. The aim is the functional evaluation of visual skills so that we can then find the best way to deal with any visual dysfunction with the use of glasses, contact lenses, low vision aids. In the detection of a pathology requiring a pharmaceutical or surgical treatment, the optometrists refer or co-manage the incident with an ophthalmologist or other specialist of appropriate specialty. Similarly, ophthalmologists can refer to optometrists requiring particular visual care (eg application of contact lenses, keratoconical contact lenses, application of low vision aids, binocular vision, etc.).