What does an Optometrist do?

A doctor of optometry (an optometrist or optometric physician) is the primary eye care provider and an integral part of the health care team. They have the opportunity to specialize in a variety of areas ranging from pediatric, geriatric, low vision, developmental vision, contact lenses, sport vision and medical eye treatment.

What might an Optometrist do in a workday?


  • detect and diagnose eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal disorders and infections such as conjunctivitis.
  • prescribe medication to treat and manage eye disease, including glaucoma.
  • perform minor surgical procedures such as removal of foreign objects from the eye.
  • evaluate and treat vision conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia.
  • prescribe and dispense corrective eye glasses, low-vision aids and contact lenses.
  • provide pre- and postoperative care, especially for glaucoma, laser and refractive surgery and cataract patients.

Developing a Career as an Optometrist

Most optometric physicians are self-employed, with a growing number practicing in small, personalized group settings. Some also practice in government health agencies, hospitals, and nursing homes.

How much salary do Optometrists make?

Annual Mean Wage

How do I become an Optometrist?

Students interested in becoming a doctor of optometry generally complete a pre-optometry or pre-med curriculum at their undergraduate college or university, with emphasis on advanced health, science and math courses. In addition to earning their undergraduate degree, optometry school applicants must take the Optometry Admissions Test.

A doctor of optometry degree is awarded to the student after an extensive, clinically oriented, four-year postgraduate program at an accredited school or college of optometry. Unlike some other health professions, optometry students begin clinical training almost immediately in their doctoral degree curriculum. The program includes doctoral level study concentrating on the eye, vision and associated systemic disease and also includes courses on systemic health conditions that focus on the patient’s overall health and medical conditions as they relate to eyes and vision. License to practice additionally requires passing all sections of a series of comprehensive, national board examinations.

A growing number of optometric physicians, after earning their doctoral degree, will complete an additional one-year residency program.

Where else can I learn about becoming an Optometrist?

There are currently no programs available in Virginia. However, the commonwealth of Virginia has contract agreements with schools and colleges of optometry in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Alabama. These contract agreements guarantee a minimum number of Virginia residents have an opportunity to earn their doctor of optometry degree at select institutions, some offering in-state or reduced tuition to Virginia residents.

Professional Associations:

Virginia Optometric Association
4461 Cox Road
Suite 110
Glen Allen, VA 23060

(804) 643-0309

American Optometric Association
243 N. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63141

(800) 365-2219

National Optometric Association
5009 Beatties Ford Road
Suite 107 #278
Charlotte, NC 28216

(877) 394-2020

State License Requirements for Optometrists

A license is required to practice as an optometrist in the state of Viginia. For more information on licensure, applications and forms, visit www.dhp.virginia.org/optometry.

Virginia Board of Optometry
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233

Phone: (804) 367-4508
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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