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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.

Evaluate Patients 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.


Optometrist Skills

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 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.


Optometrist Salary

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.


Optometrist Resources

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.