Becoming a Optometrist

What is an Optometrist?

An optometrist is a doctor of optometry that is experienced in working the health and care of the eye. Optometrists are licensed to conduct eye exams, prescribe and fit contact lenses and glasses, as well as diagnose and treat certain types of eye disease. Since optometrists are specialized in eye care and can prescribe noninvasive treatments for eye disease, they are the doctors of choice for the overall health of the eye.

Educational Requirements

To become an optometrist, a four year program at an accredited school of optometry must be completed. Afterward, three years of study must be completed at an accredited college or university. All states require that optometrists be certified, so after completing the necessary educational requirements, one must also pass the written National Board examination and a national, regional, or state clinical examination. Some states also require that optometrists pass an examination on specific state laws.

Skills Necessary

To become an optometrist, one should be detail-orientated, personable, and well-organized. Since the nature of the job is to work closely with patients, optometrists should have excellent communication skills and an approachable personality. They should also make patients feel comfortable in their presence and be able to stay calm when delivering news or prognoses.

Job and Career Outlook

Employment for optometrists is expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations, as a growing and aging population is becoming more in need of eye care. With the focus on taking care of the eye, more people are also going to the eye doctor on a regular basis and requiring yearly exams to follow-up with prescription glasses or contacts. Furthermore, the popularity of laser eye surgery has led many people to take a visit to the optometrist, who then provide all preoperative and postoperative care. On average, an optometrist makes $101,290 a year, although this varies across geographic location, experience, and work environment.

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