Optometrists, or Doctors of Optometry (O.D.’s), are the main primary vision care professionals that most people will go to. Optometrists do everything from diagnosing vision problems and eye diseases, prescribing eyeglasses and contacts, prescribing drugs for the treatment of certain eye diseases, providing treatment before and after surgery, and helping patients maintain healthy eyes.
Optometrists can work in all facets of eye care. They can work in private practices, vision clinics, hospitals, as teachers, government positions, and many other venues. Many Optometrists work in a partnership with other Optometrists to provide convenient care for their patients. Some help teach students at Optometry schools and others research new cures for eye conditions and diseases.
Becoming an Optometrist requires graduation from an accredited Optometry school and a license in the state of practice. To receive a Doctor of Optometry degree, a student has to attend the minimum 3 years at an accredited college or university before being accepted into a 4 year accredited Optometry school. There are currently only 17 schools in the U.S. and all maintain very competitive admissions standards. For students wanting to specialize in a specific field of Optometry, a one year postgraduate clinical residency program is available with fields including primary care optometry, hospital-based optometry, family practice optometry, pediatric optometry, ocular disease, vision therapy, and contact lenses. After successfully completing Optometry school, Optometrists must complete the State Board Examination, of the state they wish to work in, in order to receive a license in that can include therapeutic treatment of certain eye diseases. Licenses must also be renewed every 1 to 3 years depending on the state. All states require continuing education credits to maintain an Optometry license.