Optometrists perform eye exams to check for vision problems and diseases. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.
Careers within optometry are diverse and provide many opportunities for challenging and rewarding service. Most optometrists are general practitioners, handling a variety of vision needs. Other optometrists practice in various specialty areas:
- Contact Lenses/Cornea
- Vision Therapy
- Ocular Disease and special testing
- Sports Vision
- Binocular Vision
- Low-Vision/Partial Sight
- Dispensing Opticians
- Vision Therapy
Admission requirements for optometry school
The Doctor of Optometry degree requires the completion of a 4-year program at an accredited school of optometry. All states require optometrists to be licensed.
From the time you begin college and your pre-optometry pathway, you will be assembling components of your application to optometry school. But it takes more than a good GPA and OAT score to get into an optometry program. Work with your advisor to assemble a competitive application!
Education and training
A few applicants are accepted to optometry school after 3 years of college and complete their bachelor's degree while attending optometry school. However, most students accepted by a school or college of optometry have completed an undergraduate degree.
There are 20 colleges of optometry in the U.S. and 1 in Puerto Rico that offer programs accredited by the Accreditation Council of Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association. Admission to optometry school is competitive.
Optometry programs include classroom and laboratory study of health and visual sciences and clinical training in diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. One-year postgraduate clinical residency programs are available if you wish to obtain advanced clinical competence within a particular area of optometry. Specialty areas for residency programs include family practice optometry, pediatric optometry, vision therapy and rehabilitation, low-vision rehabilitation, cornea and contact lenses, refractive and ocular surgery, primary care optometry and ocular disease.
You are not required to select a particular major in order to be eligible for admission to an optometry program. In selecting a college major, consider how you will satisfactorily complete the prerequisite courses for your designated optometry program(s) in addition to the college/university's degree and major requirements. Work with your academic and/or pre-optometry advisor to plan your course schedule.
You have the option to choose from a wide variety of undergraduate majors to prepare you for an optometry program. Suggested undergraduate majors include Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Neuroscience.
Experience in optometry
All applicants need to be aware that the Admissions Committee also views one's knowledge of the profession of optometry to be of vital importance. This is best achieved by visiting one or more optometrists on several occasions to observe patient care on a first-hand basis. Seeking to volunteer or working in an optometrists's office is a certain way to gain understanding of and appreciation for the profession. Having strong career experiences and life accomplishments will allow you to validate your professionalism and maturity, which are strongly considered in the application process.
Optometrists must have self-discipline and the ability to deal tactfully with patients. The work also requires attention to detail and manual dexterity.
Most programs look for a minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA but the average GPA for matriculates is a 3.5 cumulative and a 3.5 in the sciences. Keep in mind these numbers are averages and various schools can have their own averages that are higher or lower. Also, these averages are climbing higher each year and admission to optometry schools is more competitive than ever. Be sure you take your studies seriously and put in the proper time for reading, studying, and review for each course.