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Become An Optometrist

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Working As An Optometrist

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $104,350

    Average Salary

What Does An Optometrist Do

Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.

Duties

Optometrists typically do the following:

  • Perform vision tests and analyze results
  • Diagnose sight problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, and eye diseases, such as glaucoma
  • Prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other visual aids, and if state law permits, medications
  • Perform minor surgical procedures to correct or treat visual or eye health issues
  • Provide treatments such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation
  • Provide pre- and postoperative care to patients undergoing eye surgery—for example, examining a patient’s eyes the day after surgery
  • Evaluate patients for the presence of other diseases and conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, and refer patients to other healthcare providers as needed
  • Promote eye and general health by counseling patients

Some optometrists spend much of their time providing specialized care, particularly if they are working in a group practice with other optometrists or physicians. For example, some optometrists mostly treat patients with only partial sight, a condition known as low vision. Others may focus on treating infants and children.

Optometrists promote eye health and counsel patients on how general health can affect eyesight. For example, they may counsel patients on how smoking cessation or weight loss can reduce vision problems.

Many optometrists own their practice and those who do may spend more time on general business activities, such as hiring employees, ordering supplies, and marketing their business.

Optometrists also may work as postsecondary teachers, do research in optometry colleges, or work as consultants in the eye care industry.

Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists or dispensing opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery and treat eye diseases in addition to performing eye exams and prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. For more information on ophthalmologists, see the physicians and surgeons profile. Dispensing opticians fit and adjust eyeglasses and, in some states, fill contact lens prescriptions that an optometrist or ophthalmologist has written.

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How To Become An Optometrist

Optometrists must complete a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree program and obtain a license to practice in a particular state. O.D. programs take 4 years to complete, and most students have a bachelor’s degree before entering such a program.

Education

Optometrists need an O.D. degree. In 2015, there were 23 accredited O.D. programs in the United States, one of which was in Puerto Rico.

Applicants to O.D. programs must have completed at least 3 years of postsecondary education. Required courses include those in biology or zoology, chemistry, physics, English, and math. Most students have a bachelor’s degree with a pre-medical or biological sciences emphasis before enrolling in an O.D. program.

Applicants to O.D. programs must also take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), a computerized exam that tests applicants in four subject areas: science, reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning.

O.D. programs take 4 years to complete. They combine classroom learning and supervised clinical experience. Coursework includes anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, optics, visual science, and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the visual system.

After finishing an O.D. degree, some optometrists complete a 1-year residency program to get advanced clinical training in the area in which they wish to specialize. Areas of specialization for residency programs include family practice, low vision rehabilitation, pediatric or geriatric optometry, and ocular disease, among others.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require optometrists to be licensed. To get a license, a prospective optometrist must have an O.D. degree from an accredited optometry school and must complete all sections of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam.

Some states require individuals to pass an additional clinical exam or an exam on laws relating to optometry. All states require optometrists to take continuing education classes and to renew their license periodically. The board of optometry in each state can provide information on licensing requirements.

Optometrists who wish to demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge may choose to become certified by the American Board of Optometry.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Optometrists must be able to evaluate the results of a variety of diagnostic tests and decide on the best course of treatment for a patient.

Detail oriented. Optometrists must ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment and medications and that prescriptions are accurate. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills. Because they spend much of their time examining patients, optometrists must be able to help their patients feel at ease. Optometrists also must be able to communicate well with other healthcare professionals.

Speaking skills. Optometrists must be able to clearly explain eye care instructions to their patients, as well as answer patients’ questions.

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Optometrist jobs

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Optometrist Typical Career Paths

Optometrist Demographics

Gender

  • Female

    72.5%
  • Male

    25.4%
  • Unknown

    2.0%

Ethnicity

  • White

    69.7%
  • Hispanic or Latino

    13.5%
  • Asian

    12.5%
  • Unknown

    3.3%
  • Black or African American

    1.1%
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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

    55.4%
  • Vietnamese

    6.9%
  • Hindi

    5.9%
  • Urdu

    5.0%
  • French

    4.0%
  • Russian

    4.0%
  • Portuguese

    2.0%
  • Greek

    2.0%
  • Cantonese

    2.0%
  • Gujarati

    2.0%
  • Armenian

    2.0%
  • Filipino

    1.0%
  • Mandarin

    1.0%
  • Ukrainian

    1.0%
  • German

    1.0%
  • Italian

    1.0%
  • Japanese

    1.0%
  • Korean

    1.0%
  • Arabic

    1.0%
  • Hmong

    1.0%
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Real Optometrist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Optometrist Capital Vision Services, LLC Martinsburg, WV Jan 08, 2016 $175,000
Managing Optometrist Luxottica Retail North America Inc. New York, NY Oct 15, 2015 $150,500
Optometrist Gulf Coast Optometry, P.A. Tampa, FL Oct 09, 2016 $150,000
Optometrist/Doctor of Optometry DRS. W.L. Roberts and G.T. Roberts Vestal, NY Sep 01, 2015 $140,000
Staff Optometrist Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center New York, NY Jan 07, 2016 $135,000
Staff Optometrist Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center New York, NY Jan 07, 2016 $135,000
Optometrist National Vision Inc. Ann Arbor, MI Oct 29, 2015 $133,574
Optometrist Jason Wonch O.D. and Associates A.P.C. Baton Rouge, LA Jan 10, 2016 $130,000
Optometrists Jason Wonch, O.D. and Associates A.P.C. Lafayette, LA Jan 10, 2016 $130,000
Optometrist Jason Wonch, O.D. and Associates A.P.C. Alexandria, LA Aug 31, 2016 $130,000
Optometrist Wilmington Eye Group Wilmington, MA Sep 21, 2016 $129,791
Optometrist Watertown Eye Group, Inc. Watertown Town, MA Sep 21, 2016 $129,791
Optometrist Nationwide Vision Center, P.C. Maricopa, AZ Apr 29, 2016 $115,003
Optometrist National Vision Inc. Colonie, NY Sep 24, 2015 $115,000
Optometrists National Vision, Inc. Richfield, MN Jan 14, 2016 $115,000
Optometrists Doctor's Exchange of Colorado, P.C. Colorado Springs, CO Oct 01, 2015 $115,000
Optometrists Peter M. Ho, M.D., P.A. Irving, TX Aug 23, 2016 $115,000
Optometrist Capital Vision Services LLC Washington, DC Sep 23, 2015 $115,000
Optometrist Capital Vision Services LLC Alexandria, VA Sep 23, 2015 $115,000
Optometrist Henry Ford Health System Dearborn, MI Jan 07, 2016 $106,080
Optometrists Doctor's Exchange of Washington, P.C. Silverdale, WA Nov 09, 2016 $105,000
Optometrist Empire Vision Center, Inc. Oswego, NY Sep 13, 2016 $105,000
Optometrists Doctor's Exchange of Washington, P.C. Silverdale, WA Aug 31, 2016 $105,000
Optometrists National Vision Inc. Rockford, IL Aug 23, 2016 $105,000
Optometrist Cincinnati Eye Institute Cincinnati, OH Aug 28, 2015 $104,874
Optometrist Visual Perceptions LLC Rocky Hill, CT Sep 10, 2015 $104,350 -
$146,090
Optometrist Anthony V Perry OD & Associates PLC Madisonville, TN Oct 01, 2015 $104,350

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Top Skills for An Optometrist

ContactLensCarePrimaryCareOptometryComprehensiveEyeExaminationsGlaucomaPrimaryEyeCareSchedulingAppointmentsOcularDiseaseDiagnosisLasikPatientCareCustomerServiceOCTVisualFieldsVisualAcuityEyeDiseasesPhoneCallsContactLensFittingsExamRoomMedicalRecordsAuto

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Top Optometrist Skills

  1. Contact Lens Care
  2. Primary Care Optometry
  3. Comprehensive Eye Examinations
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Educated and counseled patients on contact lens care, visual hygiene, lighting arrangements and safety factors.
  • Practice primary care optometry for all ages as an independent contractor
  • Provided comprehensive eye examinations to general population, from infants to geriatrics.
  • Managed and treated patients with Advanced Glaucoma and Advanced Retinal pathology
  • Provided Primary Eye Care, Ocular Pathology, Glaucoma Care & Contact lenses

Top Optometrist Employers