The medical specialty that involves the treatment of eyes and diseases associated with the eyes is known as ophthalmology. This is not to be confused with Optometry. An Optometrist is a trained health care professional that is licensed to provide primary eye care to patients. He is a doctor of Optometry, not a medical doctor. However, in addition to a 4 year undergraduate degree, an optometrist must also undergo an additional 4 years of professional education in a college of optometry. Optometrists may diagnose and treat visual conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperpoia), astigmatism and presbyopia (the loss of the eye’s ability to change focus).
An Ophthalmologist on the other hand is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. In addition to a 4 year undergraduate education, an Ophthalmologist must attend 4 years of medical school, a year of internship, and must complete a three year residency program in Ophthalmology. Some ophthalmologists spend an additional year of two in a fellowship program to receive additional training in a subspecialty like retinal diseases, glaucoma, cornea and external disease, pediatric ophthalmology or plastic surgery. An ophthalmologist is trained to provide a full spectrum of eye care ranging from prescribing glasses to performing delicate and complex eye surgery.
As with most types of medical malpractice cases, eye cases require screening by other trained ophthalmologists (or optometrists where applicable) to determine whether the vision loss or other bad outcome is a result of medical negligence or whether it is a recognized and unintended complication or risk of a procedure which is not legally considered to be medical malpractice.