The 5 O’s of Eye Care

Our eyes not only act as a connection to the world, but they can also be used to give a glimpse into the status of our health. When you experience eyesight problems, you will need to see an eye doctor. But did you know that there are many different kinds of eye specialists? If you are like most of us, you may refer to them all as optometrists, but that is not the case. You will be surprised to find out that an optometrist is only one kind of eye care professional.

Choosing the right eye care provider is an important decision. This is the person who you will trust to safeguard your sense of sight and to help you maintain good vision. If you have persistent eyesight problems, or you just want to choose a great eye doctor for preventative care, then information is power! You need to know who they are, and what they do.

Below is a comprehensive list of the 5 O’s of Eye Care that you need to know!


Kauai Optometrist, Dr. Joel E. Punzal.
Dr. Joel E. Punzal, Optometrist

1. Optometry and Optometrists

Dr. Punzal is the primary Optometrist at Punzal Vision, and through his work in the office, with the Army, and in the community of Kaua’i – he has built a premier optometry practice. Punzal Vision is dedicated to serving each individual with the utmost care and attention, and is built on the trust that is facilitated between the Doctor and each of his patients.

Optometry encompasses the examination of the eyes and the visual system for any abnormalities or defects, as well as the diagnosis and management of eye-related diseases.

An Optometrist practices Optometry and is able to perform the following functions:

  • Conduct eye examinations
  • Prescribe glasses and contact lenses
  • Diagnose and treat eye-related diseases and disorders
  • Examine the eyes for visual defects
  • Provide pre-operative and post-operative care to surgical patients.
  • Evaluate and diagnose diseases such as diabetes in patients and refer them to the appropriate doctors when necessary.
  • Counsel patients and provide advice on issues such as cleaning the eyes and wearing contact lenses
  • In some states, optometrists perform surgical procedures such as laser eye treatment, and injection for macular degeneration (an incurable disease that can lead to loss of sight).

Educational Qualifications for Optometrists

An Optometrist includes the initials “O.D.” (Doctor of Optometry) next to their names, and need to undergo the following training:

  • Prior to joining an Optometry school, they must complete a 4-year Undergraduate Bachelor’s Degree.
  • They will then attend Optometry school for 4 years for a post-graduate program, resulting in a Doctor of Optometry degree.
  • They also need to complete 1 – 2 years of residency which will include training in areas such as geriatric or pediatric eye care, Ocular disease, specialty in contact lenses, and neuro-optometry.
  • Optometrists are required to always stay current with the latest advances in eye care.
  • An Optometrist must have excellent decision making skills in order to make decisions once results are evaluated. They must also have interpersonal skills as they spend a great deal of time speaking to patients and providing reassurance.

2. Ophthalmology and Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmology is a medical branch that specializes in the diseases, functions and anatomy of our eyes. In a nutshell, an ophthalmologist is a doctor or an osteopathic physician that deals in the treatment of eye-related diseases, performs eye surgeries and provides medical care. An Ophthalmologist has the initials “M.D.” or “D.O.” after their name.

What can an ophthalmologist do?

An Ophthalmologist performs a wide variety of tasks that include:

  • Providing a complete spectrum of eye care
  • Prescribing contact lenses and glasses
  • Performing delicate and complicated eye surgery to prevent and treat eye-related vision problems
  • Prescribing eye medications
  • They are also involved in scientific research to investigate different cures and causes of eye diseases and vision problems.


Licensed Optician on Kauai.
Karl-Anthony La’Akea Oshiro, Licensed Optician

3. Optician

An Optician will dispense the optical appliances by reading prescriptions. Opticians fit eyeglass lenses, contact lenses, and frames. Opticianry is offered in many technical schools and community colleges. It can be a two-year degree or a one year certificate.

Karl is our licensed optician, and he will help you get fitted with just the right contact lenses or prescription eyewear frames for you! He will work with Dr. Punzal’s diagnosis and take into account your individual eyewear needs to find you the perfect pair to keep your eyes protected and keep you looking your best!

Tianne Castillo & Amanda Limpert, Ophthalmic Assistants

4. Optometric Staff – Paraoptometric

This is an allied health care professional who works together with an Optometrist to provide a high level of eye care to patients. A Paraoptometric will perform routine and technical services such as billing, front desk procedures, patient scheduling, and insurance claims coding.

Under the supervision of an Optometrist, they can also do the following:

  • Contact lens procedures and instructions
  • Ophthalmic optics
  • Dispensing eyewear
  • Pre-testing patients
  • Frame styling and fitting
  • Vision therapy
  • Chairside assisting during a visit

There are many other tasks that can be performed by a Paraoptometric. In most offices, an Optometrist will have 3-4 of them working with him. A Paraoptometric is an assistant to the Optometrist. They also ensure that patients feel comfortable and well-informed during their visit.

At Punzal Vision we have 6 members of our team providing this patient care: Pua, Lehua, Amanda, Tianne, Casey & Bradley! Check out Our Team page to learn more about them!


5. Ophthalmic Medical Personnel

Ophthalmic Medical Personnel are also known as Medical technicians and they work with ophthalmologists. They offer the following services:

  • Talking to patients about their medical histories
  • They advise patients on medication, procedures, and tests
  • They perform diagnostic and visual tests
  • Assist in some patient procedures
  • Patient scheduling
  • Supervision and training of other personnel
  • General office management duties


Finding the right eye doctor for you!

Finding an eye doctor may be a challenging task, especially if you do not know who they are. This list helps to identify the different types of eye care professionals and to provide a better understanding of what they do.

We would love to speak with you about any questions that you may have and to help you to find the right solution for your eye care needs. We have a comprehensive staff of eye care professionals, including our primary optometrist Dr. Joel E. Punzal, Practice Manager Pua Cobb-Adams, Optician Karl-Anthony La’akea Oshiro, and our friendly ophthalmic assistants.

Give us a call or fill out our Book An Appointment form, to speak with one of our experienced Ophthalmic Assistants.

We will make sure that your eyes are taken care of and that the proper preventative measures are taken to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear!

We look forward to SEEing you Soon!

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