Optometrist Job Description
Optometrists are healthcare professionals who specialize in the eyes. They conduct vision exams and diagnose conditions based on exam results. They also determine the course of treatment for said conditions. The most common course of treatment is the prescription of glasses. Optometrists also prescribe treatment for basic eye conditions like glaucoma and pink eye. Most optometrists work in a private practice setting. Their work weeks usually don’t top 50 hours, and they often have evenings and weekends off. Most optometrists don’t have a speciality, but some may specialize in working with the elderly or with children.
An optometrist’s position can come with a degree of independence as there is usually one optometrist who owns the practice and serves as the administrator. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for optometrists is set to grow a whopping 17 percent through 2026, making it one of the fastest-growing professions.
Optometrist Duties and Responsibilities
Examining and determining the quality of patient’s vision includes several tasks. We perused many optometrist job ad descriptions to come up with the following list of core responsibilities:
Conduct Vision Tests
Optometrists are responsible for conducting the collection of vision tests administered in a standard vision exam.
Diagnose Vision Conditions
Optometrists use their knowledge to analyze tests and diagnose conditions like glaucoma, pink eye, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. They then inform the patient of their treatment options.
Prescribe Treatment of Vision Conditions
After the optometrist diagnoses a vision condition, they prescribe treatment. The most common treatments are glasses and contact lenses. Sometimes, a patient will need eye drops or some sort of oral antibiotic.
Administer Pre- and Post-Operative Care
In some states, optometrists perform minor eye surgery. They are responsible for preparing the patient for surgery by ensuring all protective gear is in place and that the patient knows what to expect. After surgery, they are responsible for examining patients for signs that the surgery was successful and that recovery is going smoothly.
Eye problems are sometimes a symptom of a larger condition, such as diabetes or hypertension. Optometrists are trained to recognize these symptoms, but not to treat these issues. They refer patients to a specialist for further testing.
Promote General Eye Health
Optometrists educate their patients on how poor life decisions, like smoking and being overweight, can cause a slew of vision problems.
Optometrists call upon mostly technical knowledge and skills to do this job, but there are certain abilities that help one do it well. Optometrists must be experts in the anatomy of the eye. They need to know what to look for in an eye examination to determine the presence of glaucoma or indicators of a more serious condition. Optometrists must also be proficient in reading vision test results and operating the equipment involved in vision tests. When it comes to character traits, attention to detail and strong analytical skills are key. The markers for many eye conditions are subtle and require an intense focus to notice. In addition to these traits and areas of knowledge, the following skills are needed to get a job as an optometrist:
- Conducting vision tests using knowledge of various vision testing equipment
- Analyzing the results of vision tests to diagnose common eye conditions
- Explaining minor surgical procedures during pre-surgery preparation
- Monitoring patients post-surgery to ensure recovery is going as planned
- Promoting general eye health best practices to each patient
Optometrist Tools of the Trade
Optometrists are skilled in using the following instruments:
- Retinal Camera – This is used to take a picture of the inside of the eye
- Phoropter – A phoropter is used to test patient vision and determine the need for eyeglasses
- Ophthalmoscope – Worn by the optometrist, this tool is used to examine the inside of a patient’s eye
- Autorefractor – This tests a patient’s vision through the use of pictures
- Slit Lamp – This is a microscope that allows the optometrist to look at the structure of the eye
Optometrist Education and Training
Optometrists must obtain their doctor of pptometry degree from a program accredited by the National Board of Examiners and Optometry. Their educational journey starts with a bachelor’s degree in a subject like biology, physics, chemistry, or math, followed by four years of optometry school. Students must pass the Optometry Admissions Test before they are admitted to any program. This tests covers quantitative reasoning, physics, reading comprehension, and science.
Coursework in optometry school covers topics like visual science, anatomy, optics, physics, and various conditions that affect the visual system. All theoretical concepts are reinforced through practical clinical experience. Upon graduation, the final step is to pass the optometry licensing exam in your state.
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for optometrists is $106,140. Those in the bottom 10 percent make below $52,810, while those in the top 10 percent make above $192,050.
Interested in pursuing a career as an optometrist? If so, check out the following list of resources:
American Optometric Association – The American Optometric Association boasts a membership of over 44,000 optometrists and students of optometry. It offers members networking opportunities, professional development resources, and help with the job search.
National Optometric Association – The National Optometric Association is a branch of the National Eye Institute that focuses on improving cultural diversity in the field of optometry. It provides top-notch resources tailored towards minority students.
American Board of Optometry – Optometrists who want to be board certified need to keep this website handy. It contains all the information one needs to know about certification.
National Board of Examiners in Optometry – This is the organization responsible for administering optometry license exams in all states. The website outlines the requirements for licensure in each state.
How to Build an Optometry Business by T.K. Johnson – This book is a necessary read for optometrists who want to start their own private practice.
Optometrist Resume Help
Explore these related job titles from our database of hundreds of thousands of expert-approved resume samples: