Optometrist Overview

Optometrists, also called doctors of optometry (O.D.) diagnose and treat vision problems, eye diseases and related conditions, and prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and medications to treat eye disorders. They cannot perform surgery, but they often provide patients with pre- and post-surgical care. Sometimes ophthalmologists and optometrists work in the same practice and co-manage patients.

Optometrist Education

Optometrists must complete at least 3 years of study at an accredited college or university before beginning optometry training; however, most optometry students have a bachelor's degree or higher.

Next, they must attend an accredited 4-year optometry school and, after graduation, they must pass written and clinical state board examinations. Some optometrists go on to obtain a master's degree or Ph.D. in visual science, physiological optics, neurophysiology, or public health.

A 1-year postgraduate clinical residency is available for optometrists who want to specialize in one of the following areas:

  • Contact lenses
  • Family practice optometry
  • Geriatric optometry
  • Hospital-based optometry
  • Ocular disease
  • Pediatric optometry
  • Primary care optometry
  • Vision therapy

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 02 Jan 2002

Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014