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I am aware that "behavioural optometry", the extension of optometry to cover a wide array of problems, is definitely a pseudoscience.

However, is optometry itself entirely a pseudoscience? From what I have gathered on the web, ophthalmologists (aka real scientists) distance themselves from it, but I have not seen outright condemnation. (After review and reconsideration, I see now that the "distancing" I spoke of was more to do with distancing from some claims on curing myopia, which is espoused by some optometrists, but not necessarily representative of optometry.)

Some of the writing by optometrists has warning signs of being a pseudoscience. For example, in this ebook about how to cure myopia, which I was referred to by multiple (3) optometrists via the site justanswer.com, there are a lot of the standard conspiracy theory style denials of mainstream science. Such as:

That the real cause of myopia is being kept from the public is nothing short of a tragedy. The numerous organizations that pretend to tell the public about eye care are supported financially by eye doctors and the optical industry. They spend millions of dollars urging us to have our eyes examined, knowing that this will lead to more eye business.

There is definitely a lot about the way optometry has so far been presented to me that makes me personally very sceptical, but perhaps I'm being overly dismissive.

Is there any merit in optometry, or is it an outright pseudoscience?

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    that is not what your question is asking though. You are reporting a quote from the myopia prevention association that does not in any part say "ophtalmologists are lying to you, while optometrists are enlightened about the truth". The guy who wrote that may be an optometrist, but that does not mean all optometrists agree with him. Or are you saying that what that page presents are the teaching of optometry? – nico Mar 25 '14 at 9:14
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    as you are new to the site, I would ask you to read the welcome to new users page that explains how this site works. Your question is asking to investigate a claim about miopia, that is made by an association, nothing more. If that is not what you want to ask about optometrists then you should remove that quote and find a notable claim about optometry being a pseudoscience. – nico Mar 25 '14 at 9:50
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    @nico, this accepted question does not provide a notable claim against psychoanalysis, just an example of an encounter with it, just as I do. Similarly this question, and this question just ask whether or not a thing has validity or not, as I am doing. I think there's precedent for questions like mine, and so I think I have articulated it fairly, and I intend to see if anyone answers as it is. – Questioner Mar 25 '14 at 10:54
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    This question fails to define optometry satisfactorily. Not all those with the title "optometrist" or who claim to practice "optometry" are equal. The first paragraph of the wikipedia article on optometry demonstrates that it means different things in different countries. – called2voyage Mar 25 '14 at 14:14
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    My Ophthalmologist treats my Myopia the same way my previous Optometrist did -- by prescribing lenses. If you trust Ophthalmologists and say that they distance themselves from Optometrists, it seems a little odd that he'd continue the same treatment as my Optometrist without suggesting another course of treatment. Since Optometry is accepted in the mainstream, but "curing" myopia without lenses or corrective surgery doesn't appear to have much mainstream medical support, I think a better question would be whether or not it's possible to "cure" myopia without lenses or surgery. – Johnny Mar 25 '14 at 21:19
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+100

Optometry appears to have a scientific foundation. While I am in no position to evaluate the claims made by Optometrists, I can see that Optometry has the same institutional structure as science-based medicine (e.g. Ophthalmology); in fact, many major research universities have Schools of Optometry that conduct research.

For instance:

  1. UC Berkeley
  2. SUNY
  3. Ohio State University

Optometrists have professional associations that publishes research journals in conjunction with major academic publishers:

These all claim to be "scientific peer-reviewed" publications.

The main difference between Ophthalmologists and Optometrists is that Ophthalmologists are Medical Doctors (i.e. M.D.). This distinction is based on the degree and focus of training, not any perceived illegitimacy of Optometrists. My impression is that the distinction between them is similar to the distinction between Psychologists (i.e. therapists) and Psychiatrists.

Academically, Optometrists have the O.D. degree (Doctor of Optometry). These are treated as respected, but lesser degrees by Ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists regularly work alongside Optometrists, as at the UPMC Eye Center.

Note, there may be some confusion between the O.D. degree and the D.O degree (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine). I tend to hear the charge of pseudoscience leveled at the D.O. more than at the O.D.

  • Thank you for this description - The psychologist/psychiatrist comparison was the most helpful for me in determining the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists. – Questioner Mar 31 '14 at 4:47

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