What does an optometrist do?

“Optometrists are independent, primary health care providers for the eye. They examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye” (ASCO). More specifically, they can prescribe medications, vision therapy, glasses and contacts, and even perform certain surgical procedures.

To learn more about what a Doctor of Optometry is and what they do, visit the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Choosing This Field

When exploring whether optometry is the right profession for you, make sure to look at various resources to inform you about careers, engage in self reflection regularly, and seek out relevant clinical and service experiences.

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) has many helpful resources to help explore the field, including the Become a Future Eye Doctor page, their Optometry Career Guide and “True Stories.”

The American Optometrist Association also offers some helpful resources for exploration of the field, including Studying Optometry and Career Pathways.

What is the required preparation?

Unlike most medical and dental school programs, optometry programs’ prerequisite course requirements vary significantly from school to school. The majority of programs expect one year of Biology, General Chemistry, Physics, English, and Math. A good portion of schools also expect coursework in Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Psychology. 

To learn about additional school-specific requirements, explore the ASCO’s table, which lists school-specific requirements of member schools and colleges. The ASCO’s FAQs page also includes a discussion of How to Get Into Optometry School.

In addition to undergraduate preparation, applicants are also required to take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), a five-hour exam that tests on understanding of foundational concepts and big ideas from science coursework.

A Doctor of Optometry program takes four years to complete. For information on the application process, visit the OptomCAS page How to Apply.

Finding a Program

To find optometry schools, look at the ASCOs Directory of Schools and Colleges. To search programs based on specific criteria, explore the Optometry Programs Admission Directory.

Talk to the Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Advising Office

Our office is here to support you as you explore health care pathways and careers! We welcome appointments to discuss your options with our pre-medical and pre-dental advisors. To schedule an appointment, visit our website.