Science of Optometry

Over half the people in the United States wear glasses or contact lenses. Optometrist, also known as Eye Doctors or O. D. s, have to provide there services in order to meet the demands. Optometrists have to be well-educated and friendly people. All States and the District of Columbia require that optometrists be licensed, which requires a Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited optometry school and passing both a written and a clinical State board examination. Licenses are renewed every one to three years and in all states, continuing education credits are needed for renewal.

The Doctor of Optometry degree requires a four-year program proceeded by at least 3 years of study before they even start. Most students hold a bachelor degree or higher. You must have passed college English, Mathematics, Optics, Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology to get accepted into an optometrist college. Employment of optometrists is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2008 in response to the vision care needs of a growing and aging population.

As baby boomers age, they will be more likely to visit optometrists and ophthalmologists because of the onset of vision problems in middle age, including computer-related vision problems. The demand for optometry services will also increase because of growth in the oldest age group, with their increased likelihood of cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, and hypertension. Employment of optometrists will also grow due to greater recognition of the importance of vision care, rising personal incomes, and growth in employee vision care plans.

Employment growth will be fastest in retail optical stores and out patient clinics. Employment of optometrists would grow more rapidly were it not for anticipated productivity gains that will allow each optometrist to see more patients. These gains will result from greater use of optometry assistants and other support personnel, and the introduction of new equipment and procedures. New surgical procedures using lasers are available that can correct some vision problems, but they remain expensive.

In addition to growth, the need to re lace optometrists who leave the occupation will create employment opportunities. Relatively few opportunities from this source are expected, however, because most optometrists continue to practice until they retire; few transfer to other occupations. Optometrists held about 38,000 jobs in 1998. The number of jobs is greater than the number of practicing optometrists because some optometrists hold two or more jobs. For example, an optometrist may have a private practice, but also work in another practice, clinic, or vision care center.

According to the American Optometric Association, about two-thirds of practicing optometrists are in private practice. Although many optometrists practice alone, a growing number are in a partnership or group practice. Some optometrists work as salaried employees of other optometrists or of ophthalmologists, hospitals, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), or retail optical stores. A small number of optometrists are consultants for industrial safety programs, insurance companies, manufacturers of ophthalmic products, HMOs, and others. Most optometrists are in general practice.

Some specialize in work with the elderly, children, or partially sighted persons who need specialized visual aids to improve their vision. Others develop and implement ways to protect workers’ eyes from on-the-job strain or injury. Some specialize in contact lenses, sports vision, or vision therapy. Average annual earnings of salaried optometrists were $68,500 in 1998. The middle 50 percent earned between $43,750 and $93,700 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,820 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $123,770 a year.

Salaried optometrists tend to earn more initially than do optometrists who set up their own independent practice. In the long run, those in private practice usually earn more. According to the American Optometric Association, new optometry graduates in their first year of practice earned median net incomes of $55,000 in 1998. Overall, optometrists earned median net incomes of $92,000. Workers in other occupations who prevent, diagnose, and treat disorders and injuries are chiropractors, dentists, physicians, podiatrists, veterinarians, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists.

These occupations have similar jobs and need similar school and training. Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists or dispensing opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who diagnose and treat eye diseases and injuries. They perform surgery and prescribe drugs. Like optometrists, they also examine eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses. Dispensing opticians fit and adjusts eyeglasses and in some States may fit contact lenses according to prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists.

Overall optometry has a pretty good outlook, it will have many job openings in the next few years and an expectancy of many customers. You can run your own practice, or business, or go in with a few other partners. It pays pretty good wages and has great working conditions. You are around people all of the time, which can be a good thing for some people. You have to go to college and further your education a good bit but it is worth it. And in the end if you dont like it there are plenty of other jobs that you can do with your training. Overall being an optometrist would be a good career choice.


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