An Optometrist is a medical professional who specializes in the caring of an individual’s vision. They test for nearsightedness or farsightedness, color perception, focusing and issue corrective treatment such as vision therapy and vision rehabilitation.
Optometrists are usually confused with ophthalmologists who usually perform eye surgery and diagnose eye diseases and injuries.
Similar to optometrists, they can prescribe different kinds of glasses and breathable contact lenses for monthly wear. Opticians, on the other hand, fill the prescriptions ordered for patients with eye problems.
Optometrists are also involved in glaucoma testing and other eye diseases caused by diabetes and high blood pressure.
How To Become An Optometrist
An optometrist receives a degree in optometry after completing four years of optometry school and three years or more in college prior to obtaining the OD degree.
They are expected to graduate from an accredited college of Optometry and be licensed by the state in which they intend to practice.
The National Board of Examiners in Optometry oversees this licensure. In addition to these, the optometrist is expected to have clinical experience of more than one year at a hospital diagnosing eye conditions.
They are licensed to perform eye exams, check for any abnormalities and prescribe medications. The degree requires that the aspiring optometrist study courses such as pharmacology, vision science, clinical training, and disease management programs are included in the curriculum.
Upon graduation, the optometrist may decide to specialize in a certain field such as geriatric optometry, vision therapy, low rehabilitation, and pediatric optometry.
Whichever state that the optometrist intends to practice, they must be licensed to diagnose and treat patients with vision problems. Most states require that the optometrist take exams that test on the knowledge of local state laws.
An ophthalmologist specializes in eye care and has a total of eight years training which begins with a bachelor’s degree and the MCATS. Their training is more involved in just the eyes and encompasses the entire human body.
The aspiring professional then engages in clinical residency work known as PGY-1. They are also involved in researching causes and treatment options for vision diseases.
An optician prescribes the correct eyeglasses and ultra-smooth lenses at discounted prices for patients diagnosed by optometrists and ophthalmologists. They are not certified to diagnose any eye problems or prescribe any treatment.
The average salary for an optician is around $31,000 because their work is not as involved as the other two.
Ophthalmologists definitely make more than optometrists due to the extra training that they receive to earn their degree.
At the entry level, the optometrist earns in the range of $31,000 to $55,000 every year and once they get all the educational requirements and training, then the pay increases.
An optometrist’s salary is around $105,000 while that of the ophthalmologist was $300,000.
Different city and states will differ in what an optometrist can expect to be paid. In smaller cities and towns, wages for an optometrist may be a little higher.
Also, those who work in outpatient clinics and physician’s offices will make more than those who work in hospitals. An optometrist salary varies by state and some of the top earning states are found in the south due to the aging population.
The job outlook for optometrists is promising and the occupation is expected to grow at a rate of 24% through to 2018 and this is due to the expected increase in caring of the retired baby boomers that will need vision care.
In addition, an increase in the number of health insurance plans that allow patients to receive care from optometrists will also result in an increased demand for Optometrists.
Eye problems associated with aging such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration will mean an urgent need for optometrists in the future.
Laser eye surgery is also becoming a common trend and optometrists will be in demand to fill the vacant positions that result from increased use of this technology.
The 19 schools that specialize in optometry produce a total of 1200 graduates each year however this number is needed to be increased to keep up with demand in the coming years.
In addition, optometrists that have been around for years and are looking to retire will need to be replaced which will also create thousands of job opportunities.
An Optometry career is a wise choice to make in this tough economy as the job growth is expected to rise and the pay is only going to get higher with demand.