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Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more years of college. They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.


An ophthalmologist — Eye M.D. — is a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.

Richmond, VA Optometrists that you can contact, to inquire about shadowing.

What do Optometrists do?

Course Recommendations for Optometry School?
The requirements for admission to the schools and colleges of optometry vary, but students wishing to study optometry should be certain to take at least a year of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, general physics, and microbiology; English; college mathematics; and other social science and humanities courses. The science courses should be pre-professional level courses designed for science majors or health professional students and should offer laboratory experience.  School Specific Prerequisites


What kind of curriculum should I follow?

In general most schools of optometry require a minimum of 90 credits with courses in biological science, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, math, English and general psychology.

Pre-Optometry Bulletin (currently being updated), for further information please contact a Pre-Professional Health Advisor


How to apply for admission to optometry school?

All schools and colleges of optometry participate in OptomCAS – Optometry’s Centralized Application Service. OptomCAS opens the first of July for each application cycle. For more information about OptomCAS and to access the application, please visit the OptomCAS website at www.optomcas.org.

OptomCAS allows optometry applicants to use a single web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple schools and colleges of optometry. Applicants who apply through OptomCAS submit a completed web-based application comprised of biographical data, colleges and universities attended, academic course history, letters of recommendation, work experience, extracurricular activities, honors, and a personal essay.


Important Qualities of an Optometrist

Decision Making skills. Optometrists must be able to evaluate the results of a variety of diagnostic tests and decide on the best course of treatment for a patient.

Detail oriented. Optometrists must ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment and medications and that prescriptions are accurate. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Interpersonal skills. Because they spend much of their time examining patients, optometrists must be able to help their patients feel at ease. Optometrists also must be able to communicate well with other healthcare professionals.

Speaking skills. Optometrists must be able to clearly explain eye care instructions to their patients, as well as answer patients’ questions.