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Overview

An optometrist takes care of all aspects of the eye–-excluding surgery–-helping people save and protect one of our most important senses (if you’re interested in surgery, that’s ophthalmology, which is a medical degree). In optometry, after prerequisite science classes are out of the way, your focus (no pun intended) is primarily on the eye: diagnosing and correcting vision problems and eye diseases (and prescribing drugs to help treat them), spotting symptoms of diseases whose early symptoms exhibit themselves in the eye, prescribing corrective lenses, and providing pre- and post-operative care for eye-surgery patients.

Remember those old eye charts where you covered one eye with one hand and read the letters? Those old charts are becoming a thing of the past; one aspect of optometry is to understand and manipulate equipment used to diagnose eye problems and correct vision. You may also evaluate a patient’s home and/or work life to determine how vision may be the source of a problem and adapt accordingly.

Types of specialties you may choose within optometry include cornea and contact lenses, binocular vision, pediatrics, vision rehabilitation, or family practice.

Degree Information

You may choose to earn a Master of Science in Optometry or a Doctorate in Vision Science. This will include about 90 credit hours post-master’s and a dissertation. Some schools offer a four-year, full-time program which results in a doctorate.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • Is this degree accredited?
  • If you want to specialize in pediatric optometry (or some other specialty), will this school accommodate your interests?
  • What kind of fieldwork is required?
  • Does this school accept a non-science undergraduate major?

Career Overview

A career in optometry provides you with a clean, quiet work atmosphere, interaction with people of all ages, and a relatively secure income. You may choose a flexible schedule, working in a clinic or hospital or running your own clinic. You may focus on educating your patients on the care and feeding of contact lenses, do after-care following laser surgery, or work at a store that sells glasses, writing up lens prescriptions. Your work may require on-call, emergency hours, or you can keep more relaxed banker’s hours.

Career/Licensing Requirements

State licensure for optometrists is required. License renewal requires continuing education courses, the number of credits depending on the individual state.

Salary Information

The average salary for a Doctor of Optometry in 2002 was $60,000. Those in independent practice reported an average income of $110,000.

Related Links

Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)
Provides information on schools and fieldwork opportunities, as well as helpful links and publications. Make sure to look at the link to accrediting schools. There are only seventeen in the country, according to ASCO. Also use this link to register to take the Optometry Admissions Test.

The American Academy of Optometry (AAOPT)
Scholarly site that disseminates the latest in research information, as well as other news relating to the field of optometry.

Fighting Blindness Foundation
Learn more about diseases that optometrists study, such as macular degeneration or color blindness, or find out how to volunteer some time (which is always great on an application).



SAMPLE CURRICULUM

  • Optics Of The Eye

  • Anatomy And Physiology Of The Visual System

  • Color Vision

  • Image Evaluation

  • Intro To Clinic

  • Literature Evaluation

  • Neurophysiology Of Vision

  • Ocular Motility

  • Ocular Pharmacology