Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eyes and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions.
Optometrists examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. They also determine the patient’s ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, to judge depth and to see color accurately.
They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medications to treat eye diseases as well as perform certain surgical procedures.
Optometrists work in private practices, multidisciplinary medical practices, hospitals, teaching institutions, research positions, community health centers and the ophthalmic industry. Optometrists can also build successful careers in the military, public health or government service.
There is a need for optometrists in all types of practice, particularly in the areas of pediatric and gerontological optometry. Practice opportunities exist throughout the U.S. with a particular need in rural areas. (Taken from the AOA website)
Optometrists complete a four-year post-graduate degree program leading to the award of Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)
The four-year program includes classroom and clinical training in geometric, physical, physiological and ophthalmic optics, ocular anatomy, ocular disease, ocular myotology, ocular pharmacology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the vision system, color, form, space, movement and vision perception, design and modification of the visual environment, and vision performance and vision screening.
Unique to the educational requirements for optometrists is the advanced study of optics, the science of light and vision, and extensive training in lens design, construction, application and fitting.
Since optometrists are members of the primary health care team, optometric education also includes a thorough study of human anatomy, general pharmacology, general pathology, sensory and perceptual psychology, biochemistry, statistics and epidemiology.
The American Society of Colleges of Optometry publishes an Admissions Requirements Handbook containing individual profiles of each school. This is available in the Pre-Health Office and on the ASCO website.