What Is Optometry? A Comprehensive Guide
Updated 19 March 2023
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Optometry is a health care domain which entails examining vision, prescribing lenses to correct vision and identifying and treating eye diseases. Optometrists are different from ophthalmologists and opticians. A career in optometry can be very rewarding, with good earning potential and scope for development. In this article, we examine what optometry is, what optometrists do, how to begin work in this field and salary information.
What Is Optometry?
Optometry is a medical science which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of impairments related to the human visual system. An optometrist is an eye care professional who has obtained an OD (Doctor of Optometry) degree and is trained in assessing overall eye health. Optometrists may examine your eyes for vision corrections and health problems. They can prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses to correct refractive errors and can detect vision defects, eye injuries, ocular abnormalities and health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Optometrists may also make health assessments and offer clinical advice to patients.
What Do Optometrists Do?
An optometrist can perform a variety of tasks that go further than eye tests and fitting for glasses. Here is a list of duties that most optometrists perform:
Detecting defects in vision: Optometrists are trained to examine the eyes to detect signs of injury and diagnose vision defects.
Performing eye examinations and vision tests: Optometrists can conduct vision tests and eye examinations to identify refractive errors.
Making health assessments: Based on an eye examination, an optometrist can make health assessments such as diagnosing diabetes and high blood pressure.
Prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses: An optometrist will correct refractive errors by prescribing and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Treating conditions: Optometrists can treat conditions such as astigmatism, near-sightedness and far-sightedness.
Providing vision therapy: An optometrist can prescribe vision therapy to help enhance visual skills and rehabilitate eyesight.
Prescribing medication: An optometrist is licensed to prescribe medications that can treat diseases related to the eyes.
How Are Optometrists Different From Other Eye Doctors?
These are the major differences between optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians, based on the education they receive and the services they provide:
An optometrist is a doctor of optometry (O.D.) who provides eye care services. Here are some other details about this profession:
Becoming a O.D. (Doctor of Optometry) requires the candidate to pass EYECET (The Eye Common Entrance Test) exam, which is the centralised entrance exam recognised all over the country for gaining admission into optometry courses. An aspiring optometrist starts their education by completing three or four years of college with an emphasis on pre-med subjects and earning a bachelor's degree. They may complete four years of education at an accredited school of optometry to obtain their O.D. They may additionally complete a one-year clinical residency to gain experience in a speciality such as ocular disease or low vision rehabilitation.
A licensed optometrist can provide services including:
Providing vision therapy
Treating eye conditions
Prescribing glasses and contact lenses
Making health assessments
Performing eye examinations and vision tests and detecting signs of injury and vision defects
An ophthalmologist is a doctor of medicine (M.D.) who provides medical and surgical eye care. Details about this role are:
Becoming an ophthalmologist requires earning an M.D (Doctor of Medicine) which is a four-year MBBS course. This can be followed by one year of internship. An aspiring ophthalmologist then completes a minimum of three years' residency, which is a hospital based training. The residency typically lasts between three and four years. Once they complete their residency, the doctor becomes fully accredited to practise medicine as a licensed doctor. Even then, the doctor may decide to continue their training and education with a fellowship that can last another year or longer.
An ophthalmologist is a fully-licensed doctor of medicine and can provide complete eye care services. In addition to being able to provide every service that an optometrist can provide, an ophthalmologist can offer these additional services:
Medical eye care for glaucoma, chemical burns and iritis
Diagnosis and treatment of diseases, including diabetes and arthritis
Surgical eye care for crossed eyes, cataracts, glaucoma and trauma
Plastic surgery to smooth wrinkles or raise drooping eyelids
An optician is an eye care professional who provides prescriptions and assists with eyeglass fitting. Here are some details about the services this professional offers and their required education:
To become an optician, a candidate has to complete their higher secondary education with science subjects, including physics, chemistry and biology. They can appear for the national level entrance exam called EYECET to pursue a professional course. After qualifying the exam, they can apply for a bachelor's degree in opticianry to pursue this profession. During their bachelor's education, they can develop their skills needed for the job. After completing their education, candidates have several opportunities to study further or enhance their career.
Opticians are eye care professionals that can provide eyeglass and contact lens services. An optician:
Checks lens prescriptions
Takes facial measurements
Assists customers with lens and frame choices
Provides glasses and contact lenses
Adjusts and repairs glasses and contact lenses
Orders glasses, lenses and contacts
How To Become An Optometrist
Here are some steps you can follow to become a successful optometrist:
1. Graduate from higher secondary school
To pursue a career in optometry, complete higher secondary education with a focus on science subjects like physics, chemistry and biology. This can provide you with a good foundation for further education. After graduating from your higher secondary school, you can choose from multiple paths that lead to a career in optometry.
2. Pursue formal education
There are multiple to become an optometrist. You can choose B.Optom (Bachelors in Optometry) which is a three-year course, and then choose an M.Optom (Masters in Optometry) after which you may take a doctorate degree. Alternatively, you can choose B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) in Optometry and pursue a master's and doctorate in the same. You can also choose a Diploma in Ophthalmic Assistance or Technology.
Related: How To Share Your Education Background
3. Gain internship experience
After gaining education, you can register with the Optometry Council of India. Having relevant work experience can be a vital contributor to advancing your career. You can gain experience by working at an optometry office part-time or full-time. Working alongside a seasoned professional with lots of experience can be beneficial for your learning. It can give you a closer look at the day-to-day responsibilities of an optometrist.
Related: Guide: How To List an Internship on a Resume
4. Apply for jobs
After getting certified and gaining internship experience, you can start applying for optometry jobs. You may require a good resume that shows your educational qualifications and skills. You can also ask your professors or mentors for recommendation letters.
How Much Do Optometrists Make?
Optometry can be a very rewarding career with ample opportunities for growth. The salary of an optometrist may depend on a number of factors like location and experience. The average base salary of an optometrist is ₹18,740 per month.
If you are interested in the job role of an optometrist, you may also consider pursuing the following related careers:
Optometric technicians are skilled professionals who help optometrists. They assist the doctor with various tasks like taking patient medical histories, helping with in-office procedures, scheduling appointments and using diagnostic instruments. They ensure that patients are well-cared for and do not face any difficulties while the consultation or treatment is going on.
Medical technicians are professionals who may be employed in different areas of a clinical lab. Their responsibilities and interactions with patients can vary according to where they are employed. While some may work with patients, others may work entirely in laboratories. Some of their responsibilities include cleaning and sterilising equipment, drawing blood, studying samples, analysing test results and using different kinds of laboratory equipment.
Nurses are an essential part of the healthcare sector. They perform many duties like caring for patients, conducting physical exams, administering medicines, communicating with doctors and checking for vital signs. They coordinate with other health care professionals and specialists to provide the right and best care for patients.
Related: Nursing Roles and Responsibilities: A Complete Guide
Clinical assistants are health care providers who work in clinics, medical facilities or out-patient programs. They ensure that patients have a good experience and receive excellent care in a medical facility. Their main responsibilities include assisting medical professionals with patient management, handling diagnostic tests and record-keeping. They may also prepare patient files by collecting and organising patient health records. These records are useful for later evaluation and health insurance purposes.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
What Is an Ophthalmologist? (With Primary Duties and Salary)
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