The practice or profession of examining the eyes for visual defects and prescribing corrective lenses.

What is an optometrist & what do they do?

An optometrist is a person who practices optometry, which is the practice of examining the eyes for visual defects and prescribing corrective lenses. Optometrists examine patients' eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also treat visual problems (for example: prescribing contacts/glasses as needed), manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eye.

What are the duties of an optometrist?

As an optometrist, there are several tasks you are expected to do:

1.) Examine the patient's eyes using observation, medical instruments and pharmaceutical agents; test them with several different eye exercises, etc.

2.) Analyze the test results and develop a treatment plan especially for them.

3.) Prescribe glasses/contacts to treat the patient's vision problems. Fit the glasses/contacts to the patient's eyes; tell them the basics of taking care of their eyes, taking care of contacts and how to put them in (if they get contacts), etc.

4.) Prescribe medicines to treat the patient's eye diseases (if your state laws permit that).

5.) Consult with and refer the patient to an ophthalmologist or another health care practitioner if any additional medical treatment is necessary.

What are some specialties within the occupation of optometry?

  • Contact Lenses/Cornea Specialists - Contact lenses and cornea specialists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat corneal diseases and eye trauma, as well as handle all aspects of contact lenses.
  • Dispensing Opticians - Dispensing opticians fit and adjust glasses for patients and, in some states, may also fit contact lenses.
  • Geriatric - Geriatric optometrists concentrate their practice to elderly patients and are trained to handle the specific problems older persons may face.
  • Low-Vision/Partial Sight - Specialists in low vision and partial sight work with patients to prescribe visual assisting devices and teach their proper usage.
  • Ocular Disease - Optometrists who specialize in ocular disease treat patients with various afflictions, such as acute anterior segment conditions, glaucoma, and retinal diseases.
  • Ophthalmology - Ophthalmologists treat eye disease and injury through surgery and other methods. They also examine eyes and prescribe glasses and contacts.
  • Pediatric - Pediatric optometrists concern themselves with the general eye care needs of infants and young children and specialize in eye problems that affect this population.
  • Sports - Sports optometrists focus on treating the specific needs of athletes, which includes preventing injury, vision therapy, and ensuring overall eye health.
  • Vision Therapy -Vision therapists help patients improve visual skills through exercises that are aimed at binocular coordination, eye teaming, focusing, and depth perception.

Work Environment

Most optometrists work in their own small place of business, a.k.a. "stand alone" offices of optometry. A very few number of optometrists work in doctor's offices, retail stores, outpatient clinics, and hospitals. Most optometrists work full time and weekends, according to their patient's needs.

Work Schedules

The average amount of hours for an optometrist to work each week is about 40 hours. Again, many work on evenings and Saturdays to suit the needs of their patients. Emergency calls (once uncommon) have increased with the passage for therapeutic medicine laws expanding the ability for optometrists to prescribe medicines.

Becoming an Optometrist

To become an optometrist, you must complete an Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree program and earn a license to practice your career in a particular state. The O.D. programs usually take around 4 years to complete, and most students that go to these programs have a bachelor's degree.


What are some useful qualities when performing work as an optometrist?

If you want to be a, not only skilled, but loved optometrist, then you must be these 7 things:

1.) Have an interest in keeping current on the industry. Great optometrists stay up-to-date with new developments in technology related to the eye-care industry.

2.) Be attentive and accurate. Pay close attention to detail and shoot for accuracy at all times during the job. Any little mistake could cause severe consequences in a patient's sight.

3.) Be aware of the health and safety regulations. This keeps the office and faculty clean and free of any germs or harmful bacteria.

4.) Be compassionate. Show your patients that you care and you understand their troubles with their vision.

5.) Be organized. Organization helps the day to run more smoothly and stress-free.

6.) Have strong communication skills. Your patients won't be able to talk to you about their vision problems if you don't feel comfortable communicating with them! Make sure you know how to answer any questions they might ask, and answer them confidently.

7.) Take time for you patients. Don't let it seem like you're trying to rush through the eye exam. Give the patient(s) time to ask questions, don't make them think you're rushed or that your mind is somewhere else!


What type of on-the-job training do you have to complete to be a successful optician?

Learning opticians must complete 2-4 years of on-the-job training under the supervision of a licensed optician.

Licenses and Certification

In order to become an optometrist, you must have certification from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). You must also have a license that says you can perform optometry in your state. Some states require applicants to have an associate's degree.

Basic examinations in different areas consist of 125 multiple-choice questions. Candidates have to be at least 18 years old and must hold a high school diploma. Your certification must be renewed after 3 years and opticians are expected to keep up with developments in the field by taking a certain number of approved continuing education courses.

How much does an optometrist get payed?

On average, optometrists usually get paid around $51.42 per hour, meaning that you would get about $106,960 a year.


Demand for the Project or Service

Unless medical science figures out how to take away people's eye diseases in the future, then optometry will always be needed. Glasses and contacts will always be a demand from society as long as visual problems remain, which will probably be a very long time from now.

Technological Change

Recently, scientists have developed a new form of surgery that corrects nearsightedness by slitting the cornea. If this surgery becomes more widespread, considering that most patients are nearsighted, then the need for optometry could decrease very rapidly.


Demographic Change

The human race is getting older by the minute, so the eye problems that increase with age are getting more common. This means that the demand for optometrists will be greater in the community.

Industry Growth/Decline

Considering the population is growing older, technology is advancing, and the demand for visual services is increasing, the field of optometry should be a healthy career choice going into the future.

Change in Business Patterns

President Obama's Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) may change the way optometrists have to run their businesses. The optometrists may have to depend more on the government for payment for services, etc. Also, because this system may be more complex, local optometrists may have to hire more employees to help them collect payments, do billing, and run their business. This, in turn, may cost the optometrists more money.

Similar Occupations

Ophthalmology - the branch of medicineconcerned with the study and treatment of disorders and diseases of the eye. Ophthalmologists also perform surgeries on the eye and prescribe medications. They have to have 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, a 1 year internship, and several years of residency. Ophthalmologists make several hundred thousand dollars a year, making about 2-4 times as much as optometrists.

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