What Do Optometrists Do?
Optometrists examine patients to diagnose, evaluate, and treat vision and eye conditions. They perform eye and visual system checks, diagnose impairments, and provide treatment. An optometrist also prescribes corrective lenses, typically contact lenses or glasses. They do not perform surgery or other invasive procedures, which is more the domain of an ophthalmologist.As health care improves and the population ages, more and more medical professionals are needed in the work force. Job openings for optometrists are increasing at a rate of 24% annually. The projected number of job openings is 1,770 per year. Not many industries have that level of growth and job stability.
Optometrists Skills and Abilities
As with any job in the medical and dental fields, optometry requires background knowledge of biology and psychology. You should understand diagnoses and treatments for injuries and diseases related to the eye and visual systems. Since you will be working directly with patients, you need to have good customer service and personal skills. Other abilities include:
- Critical thinking and problem solving.
- Excellent oral and written communication.
- Understanding of scientific methods.
- Deductive and inductive reasoning.
- Near vision.
- Problem sensitivity.
Optometrists spend a significant amount of their work day examining patients’ eyes. They evaluate visual acuity, perception, focus and coordination to determine functional level. An optometrist identifies diseases or other abnormalities in the visual system. They may also remove foreign objects from the eye as needed. If you become an optometrist, you will analyze tests results and develop a treatment plans. Optometrists prescribe, fit, and adjust eyeglasses, contact lenses and other vision aids. They also prescribe medications for the treatment of eye conditions if permitted by state law. They may consult with other health care professionals to make referrals for additional treatment. While they don’t perform eye surgeries, they may provide pre- and post-operative care. They also train patients with the use of contact lenses and visual hygiene. Many optometrists’ offices also offer a range of visual aids on-site.
Optometrists Tools and Technology
Instruments and equipment are specialized for medical care in the field of optometry. You may use eye charts and vision cards to determine acuity. Eye occluders are also used in vision testing. Ophthalmic eye test lenses, lens holders, and other accessories are all employed to make accurate diagnoses of vision problems. Opticians’ tools like lens calipers, screwdriver, and different pliers are all needed for fitting and adjusting eyeglasses or other visual aids. An optometrist would also need to be familiar with software for accounting and scheduling. Medical software specific to optometry is used as well as database and spreadsheet software applications.
Education and Training for Optometrists
In order to become an optometrist, you will need to obtain a doctoral or other professional degree in the field of optometry. Optometry programs exist in most parts of the country, but admission is highly competitive and not guaranteed. A residency program is not necessary after finishing your degree program, so expect to conduct clinical work while still in school.
If you choose to become an optometrist, you have the potential to earn a remarkable salary. The median pay for optometrists is $101,400. The lowest 10% can make $52,300, while the top 10% will earn well over $187,500. The amount you can expect to earn will depend on where you live and how much experience you have.
Optometrists Jobs by Geography
Every area of the country needs good medical providers, including optometrists. The highest number of job openings for this position can be found in New York, Florida, Texas, and California. The states with the highest median salary are Alaska, Connecticut, and Idaho. Virginia, Oregon, and Indiana are experiencing the highest growth in new positions.