Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.
Most optometrists work in stand-alone offices of optometry. Optometrists may also work in doctors’ offices and optical goods stores, and some are self-employed. Most work full time, and some work evenings and weekends to accommodate patients’ needs.
How to Become an Optometrist
Optometrists must complete a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree program and obtain a license to practice in a particular state. O.D. programs take 4 years to complete, and most students have a bachelor’s degree before entering such a program.
Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 27 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will require more optometrists.
This occupation supported 33,100 jobs in 2012 and 40,600 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 22.7%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 24.5% in 2022 to 41,200 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 34,700, compared with an observed value of 40,600, 17.0% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 33.2% in 2024 to 51,600 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 42,800 jobs for 2024, 17.1% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.