Doctors of optometry are the nation’s largest eye care profession, serving patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, where in more than 3,500 of these communities, they are the only eye doctors.
- Doctors of optometry are trained to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders that affect the eye or vision.
- After attending a university or college for their undergraduate education, optometry students concentrate specifically on the structure, function and disorders of the eye for 4 additional years during their graduate education to earn their doctoral degree.
- While concentrating on the eye and visual system, optometrists also study general health in courses such as human anatomy, biochemistry and physiology.
- In addition to their formal, doctoral-level training, all optometrists participate in ongoing continuing education courses to stay current on the latest standards of care and to maintain their licenses to practice. Optometry is one of the only doctoral-level health care professions to require continuing education in every state for license renewal.
As primary eye care providers, doctors of optometry are an integral part of the health care team, earning their doctoral degree just as dentists, podiatrists and other doctors do.
- Prior to admittance into optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor’s degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics courses.
- Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral-level study concentrating on the eye, vision and associated systemic disease. In addition to profession-specific courses, optometrists are required to take systemic health courses that focus on a patient’s overall medical condition as it relates to the eyes.
- Upon completion of optometry school, candidates graduate from their accredited college of optometry and hold the doctor of optometry (OD) degree.
- Some optometrists participate in residency programs following optometry school. This experience offers doctors of optometry training in an optometric sub-specialty such as pediatric optometry, low vision care, or geriatrics.