Finding a Provider

To maintain your eye health and vision, it’s important to get regular dilated eye exams from a qualified eye care provider. We have information and links to help you find a doctor and get appropriate eye care.

Find a Doctor

To help you find a qualified eye care professional, we provide searches through our site from the following:

These options for finding a doctor take you off the BrightFocus Foundation website:

Types of Eye Doctors

Many health professionals are trained to take care of your eyes. The differences among opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists reflect different levels of training. Read more about each type so you can decide which is right for you:


An optician:

  • Is not a physician
  • Is trained to design, fit, and dispense devices to correct your eyesight, including:
    • Glasses
    • Contact lenses
    • Low vision aids
    • Ophthalmic prosthetics
  • Does not diagnose or treat eye disease
  • Has training that may consist of a two-year associate’s degree, a four-year degree, or on-the-job training
  • If registered with the Society to Advance Opticianry (SAO), a national credentialing body, has a four-year college degree in optical science and advanced certification and/or state licenses in fitting and dispensing eyewear and contact lenses


An optometrist:

  • Is a licensed doctor: a Doctor of Optometry (OD)
  • Is an eye doctor who examines patients to make certain that:
    • They can see well
    • Their eyes work properly together and are healthy and free of disease
  • Diagnoses, manages, and treats vision problems and eye diseases
  • Has an undergraduate degree followed by four years of optometry school
  • May have completed a one- to two-year residency in subspecialty areas related to glaucoma and macular degeneration such as:
    • Geriatric eye care
    • Neuro-optometry
    • Ocular disease


An ophthalmologist:

  • Is a licensed physician: a Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Is an eye doctor who:
    • Diagnoses, manages, and treats vision problems and eye diseases
    • Is trained to perform eye surgery
    • Has the greatest amount of specialized training on the anatomy, physiology, and diseases of the eye
  • Has an undergraduate degree followed by:
    • Four years of medical school
    • One year of internship
    • Three years of ophthalmology residency
    • May be board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology or the American Osteopathic Board of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology

All these types of providers dedicate their careers to taking care of our vision. Different eye care professionals have different skills, training, and experience. Therefore, some may be better equipped and prepared to properly detect and manage macular degeneration than others.

Learn more about finding the right eye doctor for your needs.

Getting Appropriate Eye Care

Your eyesight is central to your quality of life and ability to function at work and home. It is very important to have regular eye examinations that include eye dilation, particularly as you age or if you have any of the risk factors associated with AMD. Learn more about prevention and risk factors for AMD.

You and your eye doctor should discuss how often to have your comprehensive, dilated eye exam, based on your medical history and risk factors. In general, the American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive eye exam:

  • Every two years for adults ages 18 to 60
  • Annually for seniors aged 61 and older

Ask your primary care physician for recommendations for an eye doctor with experience in treating AMD. Not all communities have eye care providers, so you may need to travel to get appropriate care.

Ask questions before you make an appointment with an eye care professional, such as the top five questions to ask your eye doctor.

  • Do I need an ophthalmologic retinal specialist (for people with advanced AMD)?

If only one eye is affected by AMD, you may not have noticeable symptoms. A doctor can still make an accurate diagnosis.

Early diagnosis and treatment may help control progression of the disease, and stabilize vision or stop vision loss. See “Macular Degeneration: Treatments and Drugs.” 

Related Experts & Advice

  • Macular degeneration scientist looking through a microscope

    Update on Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    New treatments for the advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are on the horizon. Learn about these new experimental drugs; novel mechanisms that are actively being studied regarding the development of macular degeneration; and helpful suggestions that might decrease your risk of progression to the late stage of this eye disease.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2016
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