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The Career of an Optometrist

The Career of an Optometrist

Here’s what you should know…

As an optometrist, you would examine, diagnose, and treat eyesight disorders, eye diseases and injuries. It is the job of optometrists to prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses.

Optometrists perform a series of vision tests; diagnose any eyesight problems such as farsightedness and nearsightedness. They provide vision therapy and monitor the rehabilitation of patients, and offer pre and post-operative care following a critical eye surgery.

Optometrists also detect diabetes and refer patients to specialists. They offer counseling on how to wear contact lenses.

Optometrists are often confused with ophthalmologists – who are trained physicians qualified to perform eye surgery – optometrists are not qualified to perform eye surgery. Optometrists do not compete with ophthalmologists, but complement them, providing valuable assistance.

They may operate their own clinics or work in a larger hospital setting. Optometrists are also hired as consultants in the eye care industry, where they conduct vision tests on people looking for eyeglasses and train them in the use of contact lenses.

What are the Skills Required to be an Optometrist?

An optometrist should be able to handle complex technologies and equipment. He or she should have excellent communication skills, as it is a part of an optometrist’s duty to instruct patients on eye care and answer their questions. An optometrist should be able to make their patients feel comfortable and should have excellent interpersonal skills.

How Can You Become an Optometrist?

To qualify as an optometrist, you should get the Doctor of Optometry or O.D. degree. To qualify for a Doctor of Optometry program, you should have obtained a bachelor’s degree and take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). During the OAT, your knowledge of physics, biology, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning will be tested.

A typical Doctor of Optometry program lasts for 4 years where you will learn anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, optics, visual science, diagnosis and treatment of visual disorders and eye diseases.

Following that, you will be required to apply for a license to practice as an Optometrist in your state. Eye doctors in the United States are certified by the American Board of Optometry.

How much does an Optometrist make?

Optometrists in the United States are reasonably well paid. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for optometrists in 2012 was $97,820. The lowest 10 percent optometrists on the wage scale earned less than $52,590, while those in the top 10 percent made over $184,530 in 2012.

What are the Job Prospects for Aspiring Optometrists?

Because of a rapidly ageing population in the United States, with the generation born in the 1950’s and 1960’s entering their 50’s and 60’s, there is a strong demand for quality eye care, and hence optometrists in the United States.

In fact, the demand for optometrists is so strong that the number of employed optometrists in the country is projected to grow by 24% from 2012 to 2022 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is much higher than the average national job growth for a majority of other professions.

Also, because of the Affordable Care Act, eye care insurance is more easily accessible to the general population. So certainly, the demand for quality optometrists will be strong and continue to grow.

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