Optometrists test people's vision to ascertain what, if any corrective lenses are needed. They also test for dept perception, ability to focus and color perception. In addition, an optometrist will test for glaucoma and other diseases and issue prescriptions for medication to help with disease-related conditions. While they do not perform surgery, they may provide pre-op and post-op care for patients who have cataract surgery or have laser surgery to correct vision quality.
Optometrists must obtain a Doctor of Optometry degree, which requires completion of a four year program of study at an accredited optometry school. Entry into an optometry school also requires extensive undergraduate work in pre-optometry classes such as biology, chemistry and physics. All states require licensure.
In 2006 there were about 33,000 optometrists working in the U.S. About 25% are self employed, operating their own offices and eyeglass dispensing stores. Many work for large retailers that maintain eyeglass facilities within their stores. Others work for large optometric chains that have retail outlets in shopping malls.
The Labor Department projects average growth in the industry, but notes that job prospects should be good since there are only 16 optometry schools in the country and because our aging population will require more frequent visits to the optometrist.
Lowest 10% $46,860
Median Salary $96,320
Highest 25% $125,460