Optometry FAQ

Optometry FAQ

Pre-health professions

Information and FAQs for Oregon State University students interested in becoming an optometrist

If you are looking for a rewarding and fulfilling career that combines science, health and helping people, you should consider becoming an optometrist.

Optometrists are eye care professionals who examine, diagnose and treat various vision problems and eye diseases. They also prescribe glasses, contact lenses and other devices to improve their patients' quality of life.

Optometrists enjoy a high level of autonomy, flexibility and income in their work. They can choose to work in different settings, such as private practice, hospitals, clinics, schools or corporations. They can also specialize in different areas of interest, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, sports vision or low vision.

Optometrists are in high demand as the population ages and the need for eye care increases.

By becoming an optometrist, you will have the opportunity to make a positive difference in people's lives every day.

Optometrists help people with

Some common things that optometrists help people with include:

Prescribing glasses and contact lenses.

Optometrists can help people choose the right glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision.

Diagnosing and treating eye diseases.

Optometrists are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of eye conditions, from nearsightedness to glaucoma.

Performing eye exams.

Optometrists perform comprehensive eye exams to screen for eye diseases and to check for any changes in vision.

Providing vision therapy.

Vision therapy is a type of treatment that can help people improve their vision and eye coordination.
Educating patients about eye health. Optometrists educate patients about eye health and how to protect their vision.

Where do optometrists practice?

Some practice alone, with a partner or partners, or with other health care professionals. Many practice at hospitals, clinics, teaching institutions and community health centers, or they may choose to be employed by another optometrist, or in the ophthalmic industry, while others choose a career in the military, public health or other government service.

How do you become an optometrist?

There are 23 ACOE accredited schools and colleges of optometry – 22 are in the continental United States, and one is in Puerto Rico.

(Note: two Canadian schools of optometry – the University of Waterloo and the University of Montreal – are also recognized by ACOE).

All states require graduation from an accredited professional optometric degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. ACOE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation as the accrediting body for optometric educational programs.

What type of education is required to become an optometrists?

Doctors of Optometry must successfully complete a four-year accredited degree program at one of the schools or colleges of optometry. Most students accepted by a school or college of optometry have completed an undergraduate degree. However, each institution has its own undergraduate prerequisites, so applicants should contact the school or college of their choice for specific requirements.

What undergraduate courses should you take to help prepare me for optometry school?

The requirements for admission to the schools and colleges of optometry vary, but students wishing to study optometry should be certain to take at least a year of anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and general physics, and courses in biochemistry, microbiology, English, college mathematics, statistics and other social science and humanities courses. The science courses should be pre-professional level courses designed for science majors or health professional students and should offer laboratory experience.

What type of selection procedures are used to evaluate applicants?

Generally, colleges of optometry admit students who have demonstrated strong academic commitment and who exhibit the potential to excel in deductive reasoning, interpersonal communication and empathy. Potential optometry students may be evaluated on the basis of grade point average, performance on the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), extracurricular and community activities, personal interview, professional potential, etc..

Optometry schools are looking for well-rounded candidates who have achieved not only in the classroom but also in other areas. Leadership ability, a disposition to serve others, and a work ethic characterized by dedication and persistence are just a few of the qualities that impress most admission committees.

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. All schools and colleges of optometry in the United States, and the University of Waterloo, Canada require the OAT.

How much will optometry school cost?

The cost of your education will depend upon where you choose to attend school. Many of the schools and colleges of optometry have financial arrangements or contract programs that allow students from various states to attend their institution at the resident rate. Contact the admissions officer at the school(s) or college(s) of your choice for specific tuition and fee information.

What is the average salary of an OD?

The median annual wage for optometrists was $124,300 in May 2021.

Is there projected job growth for optometrists?

Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations.

Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will lead to demand for optometrists. As people age, they become more susceptible to conditions that impair vision, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, and will need vision care.

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