According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of optometrists is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. This growth in employment is expected because the aging population, who are the generation to most likely need vision care, will rely of optometrists. Similarly, the number of people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has grown drastically in recent years. Conditions like these are linked with several eye conditions, which means that there will be a demand in optometrists to monitor and treat these vision conditions.
To become an optometrist, you must first complete at least three years of postsecondary education, including courses in biology, chemistry, physics, English and math. Most aspiring optometrists achieve a bachelors’s degree with a premedical or biological science emphasis.
After this, optometrists must obtain a Doctor of Optometry degree, or O.D. To qualify for O.D. programs, it is best for students to have a bachelor’s degree in pre-med coursework. Students also need to take the Optometry Admission Test, or OAT, which assess them in subjects such as science, reading, comprehension, physics and quantitative reasoning.
Once accepted, an O.D program takes four years to complete. In this time, aspiring optometrists will combine classroom learning and supervised clinical experience. They will cover topics such as physiology, biochemistry, optics, visual science and diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders.
After completing this degree, some optometrists complete a 1-year residency program to get advanced clinical training in the area in which they wish to specialize. Typical areas of specilization include family practice, low vision rehabilitation, paediatric optometry and ocular disease, among others.