Optometrist versus Refracting MDs: What's the Difference?


We, at Bayside Eye Care pride ourselves in bringing you professional and superior eye care. We have four Optometrists in the practice who are ready to serve you and your family for all of your ocular health needs. We are here to provide you with the utmost care, whether it be answering simple questions, providing a diagnosis, or furthering your care by referring you to a specialist. We will always ensure you are well informed, educated and cared for. So what’s the difference between an OD and an MD?


The acronym OD is the designation given to a Doctor of Optometry and MD is the designation given to a Doctor of Medicine. Although a Doctor of Medicine has a reputable designation and we would never take away from that status, a Doctor of Optometry has specialized in the eyes and all things relating anatomically to the ocular systems. Optometrists do so much more than refraction (establishing your prescription) and sight tests. They can diagnose a large assortment of ocular anomalies, diseases and disabilities. In fact, your eye doctor may even diagnose you with a health concern before your family doctor even knows it’s occurring. Conditions such as diabetes, brain tumors, hypertension, high cholesterol, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease and certain types of cancer can all be detected through your routine eye exam. Your optometrist will always advocate for you and your overall health. Large conglomerate optical chains (I’ll keep their names out this article) will primarily hire on a Doctor of Medicine who has taken a course in refraction to conduct what they call an eye exam. What that means for you, the patient, is that you can go to any of these major chains, pay $60 - $80 for an “eye exam”, and all you walk away with is a prescription. They do not have the means to check the back of the eye nor do these optical chains supply them with the equipment to photograph and scan the back of the eye to ensure the overall health of the eye is being evaluated. Patients who choose to have their eye exams done by one of these chain stores will notice that the doctors do not explain what they have

done during their examination and what their findings were. How could they? When all they’ve done is check your prescription. Not only do you receive a sub-par eye exam but most of these “exams” are not covered under benefit plans as the exam was not performed by a licensed optometrist. Let us not forget that the most common of ocular conditions such as glaucoma which affects more than 400, 000 Canadians, macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal and corneal conditions can all be diagnosed through a detailed comprehensive eye exam, not through a refraction performed by an MD who has been hired by a large corporation. Thus, in conclusion, we ask that you consider the facts, you only have one pair of eyes to last you a lifetime. Please do your eyes a favor and have them examined by a Doctor of Optometry, after all, there is so much more to eye care than just a prescription.


[article written by Maryse Dunlop, Licensed Optician, 2015]

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