Basic Information about Optometrist

Optometrists are a very vital part of the health care team. They are independent primary healthcare professionals, who diagnose patients on eye related issues. These physicians, discover vision problems and eye diseases through color perception testing, coordination and focusing ability, depth perception and visual acuity.

It is very important for you to have good communication ability to succeed in this line of medical profession. This is because you would be required to relate with different patients as well as educate them, on eye-related issues. Apart from that, optometrist also prescribe drugs, treat vision problems by providing eye glasses and contact lenses to patients.

You would also be required to care for patients before and after they go through surgeries like removal of cataract and laser vision corrections. Optometrists also work with other medical professionals. They can refer patients to other doctors, when they discover symptoms and diseases relating to issues like diabetes or high blood pressure.

There are different titles in the world of optical care, which students interested in this profession must be familiar with. Each of these titles, have their own unique meaning in terms of skills, professional education as well as primary job functions.  The three main titles are dispensing opticians, optometrists which are also known as optometric physicians, and ophthalmologists. Dispensing opticians, make use of the information or prescriptions provided by ophthalmologists and optometrists to adjust and fit glasses and contact lenses for the eye. Ophthalmologists performs eye surgery, care for eye injuries as well as diseases.

Optometrists most times specializes in work with contact lenses, vision therapy or sports vision. Others work with children, old people or those who need special devices to see. Majority of these physicians work in a general practice; others teach, consult, or carryout research.

Job Description and working conditions

Optometrists specialize in eye related cases. They are trained to conduct test on the eyesight, conduct overall eye examination of patients, and also fit glasses or contact when necessary. As an optometrist, you would also be trained on how to recognize different disease relating to the eye, which includes glaucoma as well as cataracts. The office of an optometrist also has some special cameras, which enables the physician to take pictures of each part of the eyeball. A combination of these pictures and tests would enable the optometrist to discover any visual problem or diseases that may occur in the eye.

General health conditions can also be discovered by the optometrists, during eye examination. For example, a well-trained optometrist should be able to tell if a patient has diabetes from just simple examination that is being conducted. This is the reason why they work hand in hand with other health professionals, to make sure that patients get the best health care services.

In some instances, the office of the optometrist might be connected physically to an eyeglass center. The physician may have some junior staffs whose main duties are to help patients with fitted glasses; contact lenses are handled specifically by the optometrists. These physicians, together with their staffs are well trained to provide patients with advice, regarding the feel, fashion as well as fit of frames; these are very important to patients as well.

  • Working conditions

An optometrist, normally works in his or her own office, that are very clean, comfortable and also well-lit. Most of the full time optometrists, in a week could work for about 40 hours. Most of them could even work in the evenings or during weekends, just to meet up with patient’s needs. Emergency calls, which was once uncommon have also increased, making it possible for the optometrists to prescribe medication; this expansion was achieved through the passage of the therapeutic drug laws.

Education, training and certification

People who wants to practice as an optometrists must have a license. Obtaining this license requires you to have a doctor of optometry degree (DOD) which you must possess from an accredited program, with also a passing score on a written and clinical state examination. Once you have obtained the license, a renewal has to be done every 1-3 years; credits from continuing education are required for this renewal process. Many students who are entering the optometry program, possess at most a bachelor’s degree. For you to be accepted into a program, you must have gone through a pre-optometric study for a minimum of at least 3 years. Accredited programs in optometry normally takes 4 years to study. Know more about what Degree is required to become an Optometrist.

For students to be admitted into an optometry school, they are required to pass the Optometry Admission Test. This is usually taken after the student’s junior year. You must be good in subjects like biology, mathematics, English language, chemistry, physics, before applying to an optometry school. Once you have been accepted to study optometry, courses you would take include, systemic disease, vision science, biochemistry, pharmacology and optics. You would also undergo clinical training on how to diagnose and treat eye disorders, and classroom study in health and visual sciences.

You must have good people skills, detailed oriented, a strong business sense as well as self-discipline for you to be an optometrist. All these are personal qualities you must possess.


The mean salary for optometrist is $116,480, with a range that is usually between, US$104,090 to US$131,050. There are several factors which determines the salary earned by these physicians as well, which are size of the company, location, years of experience, industry as well as level of education. To know how optometrist salary varies across various locations, visit this.

Job Growth and Career outlook

The employment of these physicians is forecasted to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. This is due to the demand of an aging and growing population, who would be in need of special vision care. Employment of optometrists is expected to grow about 24% between year 2008 and 2018.

As population ages, people will likely pay more visits to optometrists. This is due to the onset of problems relating to vision, that occurs at old age. Such problems are glaucoma, cataract, and macular degeneration. Also, the increase in cases related to diabetes and hypertension, in the general population as well as in elderly people, will create greater demand for optometric services due to the fact that these diseases often affect eyesight.