Optometrists, known as Doctors of
Optometry, examine and treat disease and disorders of the visual system
and eye in order to improve visual performance and efficiency. They test,
diagnose, and treat patients with visual pathology or ocular-related
diseases, as well as provide pre- and post-operative care to patients
undergoing cataract and other eye surgeries. Optometrists examine each
patient’s vision system for proper depth and color perception, analyze
their ability to focus and coordinate eye movement, and measure their
peripheral vision. They are also able to prescribe and dispense eyeglasses
and contact lenses, as well as prescribe medications to treat diseases of
the eye and related structures.
Optometrists may specialize in certain
areas of eye care such as geriatric optometry, pediatric optometry, and
primary care optometry. Some specialize in low-vision rehabilitation in
which they help the partially sighted with microscopic or telescopic
lenses. Others, however, become specialists by earning master’s or
doctoral degrees in such programs as physiological optics,
neurophysiology, public health administration, or health education.
Optometrists must be able to work well with people and be able to
understand a patient’s needs. Individuals interested in this profession
should be self-disciplined and motivated, as well as have good vision and
Most Optometrists are self employed in
a private practice, and therefore need to understand how to operate a
business. Some may work in group practices, hospitals, health maintenance
organizations (HMOs), retail stores, universities, or research
High School Preparation:
Students interested in becoming an
optometrist should take high school courses in algebra, chemistry,
calculus, geometry, biology, physics, literature, computer skills,
English, and health occupations/medical professions education.
Individuals interested in optometry
must first complete either 90 semester credits of college, or a bachelor’s
degree in a science related field. They must then take the Optometry
College Admission Test (OCAT) and apply to a school of optometry. Upon
completion of a 4-year program at an accredited optometry school,
individuals must pass written and clinical state board examinations to
become licensed. Licenses must be renewed every few years by completing
continuing education credits.
Students interested in optometry should
contact schools for information on admission and course of study.
For educational institutions in
offering this course of study click here.
Employment opportunities for
optometrists are expected to grow between 10% - 20% over the next decade.
This expansion is due to the expanding eye care needs of a growing and
aging population. As the baby boom generation becomes older, they will be
more likely to visit optometrists and ophthalmologists because of vision
problems that start occurring around middle age. Employment will also grow
due to the increasing importance that is being placed on proper vision
care. New advancements in surgical procedures using lasers will also
create a demand for newly trained optometrists.
Average Annual Salary
American Optometric Association
243 N. Lindberg Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63141
Phone: (314) 991-4100
Fax: (314) 991-4101
Association of Schools and Colleges
6110 Executive Blvd., Suite 510
Phone: (301) 770-1828
Fax: (301) 770-1828
Mississippi Optometric Association
5420 I-55 North,
Jackson, MS 39211
Phone: (601) 956-7412
Fax: (601) 956-7468