Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)

Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures, as well as the diagnosis of related systemic conditions.

Among the types of treatment optometrists use are:

  1. Prescription glasses
  2. Contact lenses
  3. Vision therapy
  4. Low vision aids
  5. Pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of ocular disease

During an examination, the Doctor of Optometry also assesses general health conditions. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and arteriosclerosis are often detected during a vision examination. The diagnosis of systemic manifestations of ocular disease is necessary to preserve and enhance the patient's quality of life. When appropriate, the optometrist refers patients to other health care professionals and frequently works with them in co-managing the patient's condition.

Vision constantly changes throughout a person's lifetime and, as it does, vision care needs change as well. Doctors of Optometry provide optometric examinations and treatment which may prevent a patient's vision problem from developing into serious vision impairment.

Those who choose optometry enjoy challenging and rewarding careers.  An optometrist may help a child whose school work is hindered by visual problems, a worker whose vision problem causes safety hazards on the job, or an elderly patient who may have needlessly given up reading.

Doctors of Optometry are the major providers of primary eye care in America, with 34,000 optometrists practicing in over 6,600 communities nationwide. In over 4,000 of these communities, optometrists are the only primary vision care providers, performing 68 percent of the 75 million primary vision care exams per year.

The type of practice setting which the optometrist may enter is also expanding. While private solo practice is still the predominant mode of practice, more optometrists are entering into partnerships or group practices with other optometrists or other health care providers.

Medical Exposure

Optometry School Admissions Committees consider applicants with work experience in the optometry field to be highly desirable candidates. Applicants are encouraged to explore the optometry field either by employment or in a volunteer capacity by shadowing, observing, interning, or working with a practicing optometrist.  The primary objective is to ensure that you are familiar with the scope of the profession and to assure the Admissions Committee that you are making an informed decision.

Application Information

Applications for optometry school are submitted online through OptomCAS, the only centralized application service for students applying to optometry school.  Similar to online central application services for medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and the other health professions, OptomCAS offers students a convenient way to research and apply to multiple optometry schools with a single online application.  Please refer to the OptomCAS website for a complete list of participating optometry schools.  The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is required for admission into optometry school and students should apply at the earliest possible date, which varies by school.  Most optometry schools require a supplemental application in addition to the OptomCAS application and the supplemental application can be found on the optometry school’s website.  Please note that your application for admission to most optometry schools will not be complete until they receive BOTH the OptcomCAS and supplemental application.


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