An optometrist is a person who gives a specialized service related to vision or the eyes. It’s any health care worker involved with eye care, from a doctor with a minimal amount of formal education to practitioners with either a doctoral degree of schooling to those with no educational background at all. Optometrists perform a range of services that address various eye conditions and diseases. They can examine and diagnose various vision ailments and prescribe corrective measures. Most optometrists work independently or as part of a team in a private clinic.
To become an optometrist, you must first earn a Master’s degree from an accredited medical school, which usually takes about three years and costs close to four thousand dollars. Then you must complete a four year residency at an approved medical school, which requires about three years and costs closer to five thousand dollars. After completing your residency, an optometrist may be licensed to practice independently, or they may open their own practice. There are currently no laws in the United States to limit the number of years a physician can serve as an independent optometrist, while states such as California have capped the number of hours a doctor can serve as an independent optometrist.
To become an optometrist, you must complete the application process and then take a written optometry exam which covers basic vision tests, detailed medical history, and comprehensive eye exams. After the test, you will then have to attend a board certified optometrist’s office for an initial physical exam and complete a field evaluation, which assesses how well you understand and handle eye care. You then will have to take a state-administered written examination, which will verify that you meet the minimum requirements to practice medicine in your state and that you have received all of your required vaccinations. Then you will have to take a field practice exam that will evaluate how well you perform under different environments and how you respond to specific situations. Finally, you will need to pass the final examination, which consists of at least two hours written and one hour visual observation. It is important to be prepared for these requirements ahead of time, as many states require a minimum of two years of completed residency in order to become licensed optometrist.