Who is taking care of my child’s eyes?

November 9, 2018
Who is taking care of my child's eyes? | Texas Children's Hospital
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When it comes to eye care, titles can be confusing as you try to understand your providers.

While both optometrists and ophthalmologists are commonly referred to as “eye doctors,” both sets of professionals have different expertise and often work together to ensure your child’s eye care needs are met.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who leads the eye care team and treats eye conditions and diseases both medically and surgically. These doctors complete four years of medical school, four years of hospital-based residency and often pursue additional fellowships in pediatric ophthalmology or other subspecialties. Ophthalmologists are required to keep up with their expertise through the well-established national board certification process used for other medical physicians and surgeons.

In addition to being physicians, ophthalmologists are also surgeons who, alongside optometrists, can provide subspecialty care in more complex cases. In fact, many of the surgeons in our department of pediatric ophthalmology are experts in a variety of subspecialties, including cataract surgery, oculoplastic surgery, ocular oncology, neuro-ophthalmology, glaucoma treatment and management of retinopathy of prematurity.

Your child might be seen by one of our ophthalmologists for:

  • a comprehensive eye or vision exam, or second opinion
  • evaluation of a serious eye disease or vision loss
  • medical and/or surgical eye care for a variety of conditions (e.g., strabismus, amblyopia, nasolacrimal duct obstruction, styes, cataracts, papilledema, glaucoma, trauma, etc.)
  • diagnosis and management of eye conditions related to other diseases (e.g., thyroid disease, arthritis, craniosynostosis, etc.)

An optometrist is a doctor of optometry (OD) who evaluates the eyes for both vision and health-related problems, medically treats certain eye conditions and diseases, and corrects refractive error by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. These doctors must complete four years of graduate optometry training from an optometry school after undergraduate studies. Today, most optometrists can pursue more in-depth training through subspecialty residency programs such as pediatric and binocular vision, low vision care and contact lenses. Optometrists maintain their license through their state’s board of optometry.

Your child might be seen by one of our optometrists for:

  • a comprehensive eye or vision exam
  • a special needs exam
  • low vision assistance
  • medical eye care for a variety of conditions (e.g., strabismus, amblyopia, conjunctivitis, new onset chalazia, nasolacrimal duct obstruction, ptosis, etc.)
  • diagnosis and management of eye conditions related to other diseases (e.g., thyroid disease, arthritis, craniosynostosis, etc.)

If you’re seeking care with us at Texas Children’s, you’re bound to encounter many different health care professionals during your child’s eye exam, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, orthoptists, opticians, ophthalmic technicians and photographers, as well as medical assistants. We believe each member of our team plays an essential role in ensuring your child’s eye care needs are met efficiently and effectively.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ophthalmology at Texas Children’s Hospital, including what to expect during an appointment, click here.

Post by:

Kelsie B. Morrison, OD

Dr. Kelsie Morrison is a native Houstonian and is a pediatric optometrist in the Department of Ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Morrison received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science from Texas A&M University. She earned her Doctorate of Optometry from the...

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Radha Ram, MD

As a board-certified, fellowship-trained, Ivy League-educated ophthalmologist, Dr. Ram has dedicated her career to helping children and adults improve their quality of life by improving their vision. Her rigorous training has allowed her to offer both surgical and non-surgical treatment options...

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