As an optometrist you’ll examine patients’ eyes, test their sight, give advice on visual problems and prescribe and fit spectacles or contact lenses when needed.
You’ll be trained to recognise diseases of the eye, such as glaucoma and cataract, as well as general health conditions such as diabetes. You will refer patients to medical practitioners when necessary and sometimes share the care of patients with chronic conditions.
Types of optometrist
You can work in a:
- high street company (either in a large national chain or small independent practice) – carrying out eye examinations, giving advice on eye problems and prescribing spectacles and contact lenses;
- hospital or clinic – working alongside ophthalmologists to treat and manage patients with a range of eye conditions;
- university or laboratory – undertaking research into diseases and treatments that can help improve or restore sight.
- Perform vision tests and analyze results
- Diagnose sight problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness and eye diseases, such as glaucoma
- Prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and medications
- Provide treatments such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation
- Provide pre- and postoperative care to patients undergoing eye surgery—for example, examining a patient’s eyes the day after surgery
- Evaluate patients for the presence of diseases such as diabetes and refer patients to other healthcare providers as needed
- Promote eye health by counseling patients, including explaining how to clean and wear contact lenses
Optometrists need a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree. Applicants to O.D. programs must have completed at least 3 years of postsecondary education, including coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, English, and math. However, most students get a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in a Doctor of Optometry program.
- clinical decision-making skills and an ability to use your professional judgement;
- excellent communication skills to deal with a range of people;
- strong interpersonal skills, with the ability to put anxious patients at ease;
- the ability to understand and apply scientific principles and methods;
- confidence in using complex equipment;
- team work skills;
- manual dexterity, precision and accuracy;
- good organization and administrative skills;
- attention to detail;
- a willingness to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to keep up to date;
- that you’re comfortable working in close proximity to patients;
- patience to carry out repetitive tasks.