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Optometry School: Optometrist College Education and Careers

Choosing the right optometrist college and successfully completing an optometry education can open up many opportunities for those that want to examine, diagnose and manage disorders that affect vision. If you want to pursue an optometrist career, you will need to complete an optometry education at a college or university that offers a specialized optometry program. Optometry schools around the United States are very competitive to get into and there are only a little over a dozen accredited schools in the country that offer a Doctor of Optometry degree program.

What to Expect at Optometry School

Optometry schools around the United States offer specialized training in the field of eye care and vision correction, and the Doctors of Optometry program is only open to those who have successfully completed their undergraduate studies in a health-related field and passed the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). The Optometry Admissions Test consists of four components: survey of natural sciences, reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning.

After successfully passing the OAT, students can attend an optometrist college of their choice. Optometry school consists of four years of study at the post-graduate, doctoral-level and a trained optometrist is required to take several health courses and attend workshops to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and developments in the field of optometry.

After completing training at an accredited optometry school, students must pass a rigorous national examination administered by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO). The exam consists of a basic science, clinical science and patient care component. After passing this exam, students are granted a Doctor of Optometry (OD) license. Students can then elect to complete a one-year post-graduate clinical residency program to obtain clinical competence in a specialized field.

Optometry Education Curriculum

Optometry schools may offer pre-professional college optometry courses and degree-specific programs, Common courses required to complete a degree in optometry from an optometry school include:

  • Optics Laboratory
  • Advanced Human Anatomy and Histology
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Ocular Anatomy
  • Opthalmics Optics Laboratory
  • Vision Science
  • Community Health Optometry
  • Pediatric Optometry
  • Corneal Disease
  • Ocular Pathology
  • Nutrition and the Eye
  • Opthalmic Lasers and Refractive Procedures
  • Clinical Medicine

Specialty optometry education courses may include:

  • Geriatric Optometry
  • Pediatric Optometry
  • Cornea and Contact Lenses
  • Refractive Surgery
  • Ocular Surgery
  • Treatment of Ocular Diseases
  • Primary Eye Care Optometry
  • Vision Therapy
  • Low-Vision Rehabilitation

Almost all courses offered at optometry schools include a clinical component so that students can get the hands-on skills and training they need to succeed in their careers and acquire firsthand knowledge about different techniques to pass the national exam. Optometry schools fully prepare students to take their licensure examination during their last year of optometry education, or shortly after graduation. Students may also consider taking remedial courses or additional courses on their own in order to prepare for the optometry exam.

Optometrist Education After Optometry School

After completing a dance training program at a dance college or dance school, dancers will need to continually improve their skills and gain as much experience as possible in their field. Working with a professional dance company is one way to cultivate skills and talents in this highly competitive industry, and gain extensive knowledge and experience in performing on stage, dancing in a troupe or group setting, and being a part of a formal dance program. Many dance schools host festivals and special events throughout the year so that students can get their initial training and experience for on-stage performance.

Attending Dance College

Students who successfully complete an optometry education at an accredited optometry school can participate in a residency program to specialize in a particular field. Some optometrist colleges offer in-residency programs in an optometric sub-specialty such as pediatric optometry, geriatric care and low vision care.

Students who hold a Doctor of Optometry degree are also required to take continuing education courses in the field of optometry so that they are aware of the latest standards and regulations applicable to eye care and vision correction. Continuing optometry education courses are available at several optometry schools and colleges.

Optometrist Career Information

Optometrists are private practitioners and may work as a sole practitioner or as part of a group practice. All States and the District of Columbia require optometrists to be licensed, and some States require applicants to pass an examination that is relevant to State laws. Licenses must be renewed every 1 to 3 years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of optometrists is expected to grow 24 percent between 2008 and 2018. With the increasing popularity of laser surgery, optometrists may find that patients no longer need eyeglasses but they will still turn to an optometrist for preoperative and postoperative services.

In 2008, the median annual wages of salaried optometrists were $96,320. The American Optometric Association reports that the average annual income for self-employed optometrists was $175,329 in 2007. Self-employed optometrists will continue to earn a higher income than those that work for a medical group or company.

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