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Educational Requirements of an Optometrist

Puja Lalwani
Optometry is an interesting field which deals with eye care. To become an optometrist, you need to fulfill certain educational qualifications and to practice you also need a license.
The job of an optometrist comprises treating people with various eye problems. Optometrists check for these problems, and further provide suitable diagnosis and treatment for the same.
Prescribing medication for the particular eye problem, prescribing corrective glasses and contact lenses is also part of the job. They can refer their patients to specialists for the various problems they may be suffering from, and it is their duty to provide a treatment plan and care for patients, who have to undergo eye surgery.

Expected Qualifications

To become an optometrist, you are going to have to fulfill the following requirements:
  • You will have to complete a 4 year Doctor of Optometry degree at a school that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association.
  • To gain admission into such a school, you will have to take up courses in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, and English. In short, you must have a science background as an undergraduate, to qualify as a student in this field.
  • Since gaining admission to a school is very competitive, you will be required to give a standardized exam known as the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) to measure your understanding of science, as well as your academic capabilities. Here, you will be tested on all the scientific fields, that includes general and organic chemistry, physics, and biology.
  • Even your comprehension reading will be checked along with your quantitative reasoning skills. It would be best to take this test in your sophomore year, as this will help you raise your score over time.
  • In class, you will be exposed to laboratory study, where you will be provided training in diagnosing and treating eye problems and disorders. You will also be trained in subjects such as vision science, biochemistry, systemic diseases, optics, and pharmacology.
  • You will be trained in determining various eye problems, prescribing methods, medication for eye care, how to prescribe and utilize means of vision correction such as the type of eyeglasses, their thickness, the use of contact lenses, etc.
  • Those wishing to specialize in a particular field of optometry can opt for the one-year postgraduate clinical residency programs that are available at various schools. These fields include vision therapy and rehabilitation, cornea and contact lenses, ocular disease, refractive and ocular surgery, low-vision rehabilitation, geriatric or pediatric optometry.
  • To pursue an optometrist's career, you must obtain a license to practice it. For this, you must have an optometrist's degree from an accredited school, and must clear a state as well as a national exam. To continue in this career, your license must be renewed every 1-3 years. You also need to attain continuing education credits to renew your license.


Simply completing the aforementioned requirements is not enough. You must also possess certain skills that will help you advance in this field. These skills will also be a part of your educational program, but honing them and using them in the best way possible is your responsibility. You must have certain managerial and office skills.
The knowledge of basic business skills is a plus, when it comes to managing your own business. Excellent communication skills are required, since this is a medical job, and knowing how to communicate the various problems your patient may be suffering from is an essential aspect of your training.
This can be a rewarding career, that will not only enable you to help people, but will also provide financial success in the long run, as the salary range of an optometrist is quite high. If these are the things you are looking for in a career, and if you have the affinity for the various sciences, this field is definitely meant for you.