This is a very common source of confusion. You do not have to see both! Optometrists are doctors (their degree is an OD, or doctor of optometry) who are trained to perform annual evaluations of your eyes, detect certain eye diseases and prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses for the correction of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They are not allowed to perform medical treatment of the eyes or eye surgery, as they have no medical school training.
Ophthalmologists are doctors (theirs is an MD, or doctor of medicine, degree) who have been fully trained in a medical school. They can also prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, but most important, they diagnose, treat, and perform surgery for eye diseases. Ophthalmologists also have knowledge of general illnesses of the body, because of their full medical training. To become an ophthalmologist, a person requires a college degree, four years of medical school, three to four years of residency training, and in some cases, one to two more years of fellowship training in specific specialties of the eye. If you require a routine eye exam or are simply updating your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription, a visit to the optometrist may be the best option. However, for a specific problem in the eye resulting from a disease, trauma, infection, or surgery, an ophthalmologist is the most appropriate professional to visit
According to statistic, the there are about 700 Ophthalmologists in Bangladesh, which comes to ratio of 1:200,000, which is very few. Moreover, out these 700 Ophthalmologists, 20% are abroad for higher training on surgery.
Generally in Bangladesh when we have any problem in our eye, we go to an Ophthalmologist. An Ophthalmologist charges taka 300 to 500 per visit, which is not affordable by many of our country people. In all developed countries, even in India, there are Optometrists who prescribe power for spectacles.
In 2006, ORBIS International provided scholarship to 3 batches of students to do diploma course on Optometry in collaboration with University of South Asia and State University of Bangladesh. Now there are about 100 Optometrist in different eye hospitals and optical shops. It is hoped that within 2 to 3 years time there will be an Optometrist in all optical shop and people will know Optometrist.
Source: The Daily Star, June 27, 2009