Vision Care
Optometrist

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Salary: $47,564 - $142,293
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Hourly: $28.41 - $71.11
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Outlook: 2 Stars
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Length of Training: 6-8 years
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Career Explorer
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Roadmap
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Doctors of Optometry (OD) provide most of the primary vision care that people need. They examine, diagnose, treat and manage eye diseases and disorders. Optometrists may administer drugs for diagnostic purposes, and in many states, prescribe drugs to treat eye diseases. Traditionally, they prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, vision therapy and low vision aids. They may also use special tests and tools to identify and evaluate vision defects that are symptomatic of other diseases.

Area of Specialization
Optometrists may specialize in working with children, the elderly, or partially-sighted people who need special visual aids to improve their vision. They may concentrate on education and/or perform scientifc research. Other specialized practices include contact lenses, occupational vision (to protect and preserve worker’s vision and minimize eye strain), pediatrics, sport vision, and vision therapy.

Work Environment

The majority of optometrists are in private practice, usually in their own offices. Since they are self-employed, they may set their own hours. Many work in the evening and on Saturdays to accommodate their patients’ schedules. Opportunities for employment exist in health maintenance organizations (HMOs), multidisciplinary practices, hospitals, commercial optical facilities, and commission in the military.

Advancement
Optometrists wishing to teach or do research may study for an additional master’s or PhD degree in various fields. These include visual science, physiological optics, neurophysiology, public health, health administration, health information and communication, or health education. Postgraduate clinical residency programs are available for those wishing to specialize in a particular area of eye care such as family practice optometry, pediatric optometry, vision therapy, contact lenses, hospital-based optometry, or ocular disease.