What do optometrists do?
Optometrists are medical professionals who deal with problems relating to eye sights, mostly by prescribing corrective spectacles, lenses or medicines. Optometrists are generally confused with ophthalmologists. Although both of these specialized professions deal with eye care, optometrists have to acquire their D.O. (Doctor of Optometry) degrees before they start practicing. Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, are M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) and can also operate on the eye.
How to become an optometrist:
For those who have been wondering about how to become an optometrist, below are a few steps that briefly define the process:
- Choosing the right subjects in high school and college: In order to apply to a D.O. program in the future, high school students are often recommended selecting biology, physics, math, and chemistry as their preparatory courses for the degree ahead of them. Once out of high school, they need to get enrolled in a college pre-optometric course. Majority of the colleges require students to gain credits in all the subjects mentioned above, with English as an additional course.
The good news is that not every D.O. program lays down the prerequisite that a student must have passed out from college before they enroll for further studies. However, students must have completed at least 75 percent of their four-year degree program before enrolment into higher studies. Students are required to get their bachelor’s degree, nonetheless, before they are awarded their D.O. degree.
- Graduating from a certified and credible optometry college: Before getting into an optometry school, students applying for the program have to appear for an admission test. Many students start appearing for their admission tests right from their second or third year in college, which gives them the opportunity to retake the test if they are unsuccessful at first. In optometry schools, a four-year degree program is offered that encompass courses related to general health and vision. The training is imparted both in academic and practical terms needed to identify which is the right contact lens is the ‘right one’ for the patient from the long line of options from the Acuvue brand. Compulsory courses include pharmacology, optics, systematic diseases, and biochemistry.
- Keeping the door open for residency as part of post-graduation: With residency programs, optometrists get a chance to concentrate more in the area of their interest, which includes family health, vision remedy, geriatric or pediatric optometry and treatment of optical problems. Specializations can also be done in optical and refractive surgeries, which is good news for people studying optometry in America states that allow them to carry out small-scale eye operations, aside from the license to recommend daily wear lenses or extended wear ones.
- Passing the licensing exam: A career in optometry does not take off immediately after a person finishes the D.O. course since the degree holders are required to pass a licensing exam to get approval as optometry practitioners. People who have been trying to find more about how to become an optometrist should remember that it is only after clearing the licensing exam that individuals become eligible to practice as optometrists in different health facilities. Licensing also needs to be renewed every one to three years, depending upon the state requirement. Attaining the license becomes a little easier when people keep themselves in practice by enrolling themselves for higher degree programs even after they start practicing.
Individuals who want to take up the job of research or teaching optometrists, simultaneously with their work as practicing optometrists, need a master’s or Ph.D. (doctorate) in a specialized field of optometry like neurophysiology and optical science.