Can An Optometrist Do Lasik?

If you’re considering LASIK surgery to correct your vision, you might be wondering about the roles different eye care professionals play in this life-changing procedure. 

Specifically, you may ask, “Can an optometrist do LASIK?” 

This question is crucial for eye care patients, technology enthusiasts, and health-conscious individuals who are eager to make informed decisions about their eye health. 

In this article, we will explore the responsibilities of optometrists and ophthalmologists in the context of LASIK surgery.


Understanding the Roles: Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist

To understand whether an optometrist can perform LASIK, it’s crucial to distinguish between the roles and qualifications of optometrists and ophthalmologists.



  • Education & Training: Optometrists are healthcare professionals who have completed a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Their training typically includes four years of optometry school after college, focusing on eye exams, vision correction, and the diagnosis and treatment of certain eye conditions.
  • Scope of Practice: Optometrists offer primary vision care services, which encompass eye exams and vision tests, prescribing corrective lenses, detecting various eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for specific eye conditions.
  • Limitations: While they play a critical role in eye care, optometrists are not trained or licensed to perform surgical procedures like LASIK.



  • Education & Training: Ophthalmologists are specialized medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) dedicated to eye and vision care. Their training includes four years of medical school, a one-year internship, and three years of residency in ophthalmology. Some may undertake additional fellowship training to specialize in advanced eye surgery techniques.
  • Scope of Practice: Ophthalmologists are qualified to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat a wide range of eye diseases, prescribe medications, and conduct eye surgeries, including LASIK procedures.
  • Surgical Expertise: Given their extensive training, ophthalmologists are the professionals qualified to perform LASIK surgery.


Can an Optometrist Perform LASIK?

The short answer is no; optometrists cannot perform LASIK surgery. 

LASIK, which stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a complex surgical procedure that reshapes the cornea to improve vision. This procedure requires specific surgical training and expertise that only ophthalmologists possess.


The LASIK Procedure: Who Is Qualified?

What is LASIK?

LASIK is a widely favoured refractive surgery designed to correct vision issues like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The procedure entails reshaping the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye, to ensure that incoming light is accurately focused onto the retina, resulting in clearer vision.


Role of the Ophthalmologist

The LASIK procedure must be conducted by a qualified ophthalmologist. This is because the surgery requires a deep understanding of the eye’s anatomy, precision in handling the surgical instruments, and the expertise to manage any complications that may arise during or after the procedure. 

Ophthalmologists are uniquely qualified to perform LASIK due to their extensive surgical training and experience.


Role of the Optometrist

While optometrists cannot perform LASIK surgery, they play a pivotal role in the overall LASIK process. Their involvement includes:

Pre-Operative Care

  • Initial Consultation: Optometrists often conduct the initial consultation to determine if a patient is a suitable candidate for LASIK surgery. This includes thorough eye examinations and evaluations of the patient’s ocular health and vision requirements.
  • Referral: If the patient is deemed a good candidate, the optometrist will refer them to an ophthalmologist for the LASIK procedure.

Post-Operative Care

  • Follow-Up Visits: After the LASIK procedure, patients typically return to their optometrist for follow-up visits. The optometrist monitors the healing process, addresses any concerns, and ensures the patient’s vision is improving as expected.
  • Long-Term Care: Optometrists continue to provide long-term vision care and management for the patient’s overall eye health.


Why Can’t Optometrists Perform LASIK?

The primary reason optometrists cannot perform LASIK lies in the differences in training and surgical expertise between optometrists and ophthalmologists. LASIK is a complex surgical procedure requiring specialized skills and extensive surgical training, which is beyond the scope of optometry education.


Regulatory and Licensing Considerations

  • Licensing Boards: State licensing boards regulate the scope of practice for optometrists and ophthalmologists. These boards ensure that only professionals with the necessary training and qualifications are permitted to perform specific procedures like LASIK.
  • Medical and Ethical Standards: Allowing only ophthalmologists to perform LASIK ensures that patients receive the highest standard of care and reduces the risk of complications during the surgery.


The Importance of Teamwork in Eye Care

The collaborative approach between optometrists and ophthalmologists ensures that patients receive comprehensive and specialized care at every stage of the LASIK journey. 

While the ophthalmologist performs the surgery, the optometrist provides essential support and continuity of care, making the process seamless and effective.


Conclusion: Trusting the Right Professional for LASIK

When considering LASIK surgery, it’s crucial to consult the right eye care professionals for the best outcomes. While optometrists play a significant role in evaluating and caring for LASIK patients, the actual surgery must be performed by a qualified ophthalmologist. By working together, optometrists and ophthalmologists ensure that patients receive comprehensive and effective care throughout their LASIK journey.

If you’re considering LASIK, your first step should be scheduling a consultation with your optometrist. They can provide valuable insights and refer you to a trusted ophthalmologist specializing in LASIK surgery. Remember, prioritizing your eye health is essential. Choosing the right professionals is essential for attaining a clear and vibrant vision.

If you have any further questions or need personalized advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to your eye care provider. Your journey to a better vision begins with making informed decisions and entrusting your eyes to skilled professionals.


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