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Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system (American Optometric Association, AOA). As an independent primary eye care provider, the optometrist is often the first to detect symptoms of eye disease including glaucoma and cataracts, as well as systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and arteriosclerosis. Doctors of Optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, glasses and contact lenses, and in some cases, perform surgical procedures. Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations and lifestyle. All optometrists provide general eye and vision care. Some optometrists work in general practice, while others may specialize. In addition, some choose to enter optometric education and/or perform scientific research.
The U.S. ophthalmic market continues to increase over the years and is currently the nation's third largest independent health care profession. Growth in the eyewear and eye care market can be attributed to steady economic growth, increase in services provided by optometrists, growth in the population needing eye care (>50% of the population wears glasses or contacts!), and the public's awareness of good eye health care. Although there has been a steady increase in the ophthalmic market, there has been a downward trend of applications to optometry school. Students considering optometry as a career should develop a clear picture of the profession. The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) has produced an educational DVD aid entitled, The Eyes Have It. This provides students with an introduction to the field of optometry.
Doctors of optometry receive four years of specialized professional education and clinical trainings at an accredited school or college of optometry. Currently, there are only 22 schools and colleges of optometry. Ohio only has one optometry school at The Ohio State University.
Why Do Students Choose Optometry?
- Excellent income: According to the 2014 American Optometric Association Economic Survey, the average net income for optometrists in $101,410
- Satisfying professional career: Optometrists have the satisfaction of helping their patients care for the most highly valued sense-sight
- Highly Respected Profession: Optometrists are viewed are as leaders in their community
- Career outlook is excellent: All areas of the country need optometrists to serve a population which is increasingly aware of the importance of prevention and proper health care, and which requires the service of optometrists now more than ever.
To date, there are currently 35,855 practicing optometrists in approximately 7,000 communities across the nation. The American Optometric Association estimates that a ratio of one practicing optometrist to every 7,000 people would be a reasonable average for the United States (few states meet this need!). Optometrists practice in rural communities, suburban areas, and large cities. The majority of optometrists work in an office setting either in solo practice, with a team of optometrists, or with other health professionals. Others choose a career in military, public health, or at hospitals, clinics, teaching institutions, and community health care centers.
Optometry was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the second best profession because of its regular hours, few emergency calls, and collaboration with other professions. Although there has been a steady increase in the ophthalmic market, there has been a downward trend in applications to optometry school. Ohio only has one optometry school located at The Ohio State University.
Students interested in applying to Optometry Schools should have a solid foundation in biology, chemistry, and physics. In addition, a competitive GPA and OAT scores and experience or volunteer work within the profession are also required. Well qualified students are those that excel in critical thinking, have good communication skills, and exhibit leadership.
To date there are currently 35,855 practicing optometrists in approximately 7,000 communities across the nation. The American Optometric Association estimates that a ratio of one practicing optometrists to every 7,000 people would be a reasonable average for the United States (few states meet this need!). Optometrists practice in rural communities, suburban areas, and large cities. The majority of optometrists work in an office setting either in solo practice, with a team of optometrists, or with other health professionals. Others choose a career in military, public health, or at hospitals, clinics, teaching institutions, and community health centers.
Doctors of Optometry receive four years of specialized professional education and clinical trainings at accredited school or college of optometry. Currently, there are only 22 schools and colleges of optometry – 21 are in the continental U.S.; one is in Puerto Rico.
- Physiology: ANT 3110 & 3120
- Biology (+labs): BIO 1120 & 1150
- Physics: PHY 1110 & 1120
- Chemistry (+labs): CHM 1120 & 1210
- Psychology: PSY 1010
- Lifespan Development: PSY 3410
- O-Chemistry (+labs): CHM 2110 & 2120
- English: ENG 1100 & 2100
- Biochemistry: BMB 4210 or 3220
- Mathematics: MTH 1340 & 2240
- Microbiology: M&I 2200 or BIO 3100 & 3110
- Humanities & Social Sciences: 7 credit hours each
Courses in statistics, ethics, histology, sociology, medical terminology, and small business management are strongly recommended.
Most Optometry programs require that students complete 3 years of undergraduate education that includes the following:
- One year of Physiology (ANT 3110, ANT 3120)
- One year of Biology (BIO 1120, BIO 1150)
- One year of General Chemistry ( CHM 1210, CHM 1120)
- One year of Organic Chemistry with labs (CHM 2110, CHM 2120)
- One year of Physics with labs (PHY 1110, PHY 1120)
- One year of Psychology (PSY 1010, PSY 3410)
- One year of English (ENG 1100, ENG 2100)
- One semester of Biochemistry (BMB 4210)
- One year of Math (MTH 1340, MTH 2240)
- One semester of Microbiology (M&I 2200)
- One year of Humanities & Social Sciences
In addition, recommended courses include:
- Nutrition (BMB 2500)
- Neuroscience (NCP 3330 or PSY 3910, PSY 3920)
- Microbiology (BIO 3100/3110)
- Public Health (BIO 1080)
It’s important to research individual chiropractic programs for specific requirements. Contact the pre-health advisor for assistance.
Wright State University is prepared to help you plan a career in optometry. We offer all the prerequisite courses necessary for applying to optometry school. Most students admitted to optometry programs have bachelor’s degrees (>80%) or three years or more undergraduate education. Applicants who do not have a B.S. or B.A. should be making progress towards such degree.
Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat, and manage disease and disorders of the visual system (American Optometric Association). The U.S. ophthalmic market has continued to increase over the years and is currently the nation’s third largest independent health care profession and ranked as one of the top ten income-earning professions. Growth in the eyewear and eye care market is attributable to:
- Steady but moderate growth in economy
- Increases in the range and volume of services provided by optometrists
- Expansion in private third party and governmental coverage of vision and eye care services
- Growth in the population needing eye care ( >50% of the population wear glasses or contacts)
- The public’s enhanced awareness of the importance of good eye health care
Although students can major in any area they desire, below are some common majors that students often choose. The following PDF links show sample programs of study for students to use as a guideline. Most courses are offered more than once per year allowing flexibility in your program of study design. The specific requirements can vary depending on the student and the professional school they are interested in; Therefore, it is important to meet with the Pre-Health advisor to develop a schedule specific to you.
In addition to the course prerequisites, students interested in applying to optometry programs are required to take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) which is available year round. The OAT is a battery consisting of the following four individual tests: the Survey of the Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension Test, Physics Test, and Quantitative Reasoning Test.
It is recommended that at least one year of collegiate education, including courses in biology, general and organic chemistry, and physics, be completed before taking the OAT. The OAT is comprised of 4 parts:
- Survey of Natural Sciences
- Reading Comprehension
- Quantitative Reasoning
OAT scores range from 200 - 400.
How Competitive is the Admissions Process?
The admission process at The Ohio State University College of Optometry is competitive with only 65 new students being admitted each year selected from approximately 300 applicants. The grade point average for entering optometry students is among the highest of all schools and colleges of optometry. The entering class of 2015 had a GPA of 3.51 cumulative GPA and an average total science Optometry Admission Test (OAT) score of 320. The deadline for applications (OptomCAS) is March 31 for the class entering the following autumn. All application materials, including supplementary applications and letter of evaluation must be received by this deadline.
Application materials become available to the preceding July and can be obtained online at www.optometry.osu.edu. Prospective students are encouraged to apply early.
In addition to the course prerequisites, students interested in applying to optometry programs are required to take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) which is available year round. The testing program is designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information.
It is recommended that at least one year of collegiate education, including courses in biology, general and organic chemistry, and physics, be completed before taking the OAT. The OAT is comprised of 4 parts: 1) Survey of Natural Sciences 2) Reading Comprehension 3) Physics; and 4) Quantitative Reasoning. OAT scores range from 200-400. Additional information on the OAT can be found at www.opted.org.
When should I apply to optometry school?
Early applications are desirable, and deadlines range from December to April 1 for the various schools and colleges of optometry. Contact the school or college of your choice to obtain application instructions and forms. Most optometry schools and colleges require applicants to complete an application, write a personal essay, submit transcripts from colleges attended by the applicant, take the optometry admissions test (OAT) and submit scores, provide letters of recommendation, participate in a personal interview, and demonstrate experience or exposure to the filed of optometry.
What is an acceptable OAT score?
Each optometry school is different. For a complete list of the 17 schools and colleges of optometry, visit www.opted.org. Applicants are encouraged to be familiar with the format and the subject content of the test before sitting for the test.
What is the best way to prepare for the OAT?
A sample test is available at the following website: www.opted.org/info_oat.cfm
Students can also purchase study materials and/or courses to help prepare for the OAT. Please see the Pre-Health Advisor for literature regarding these materials and courses. It is important to remember that to do well on the OAT, a considerable amount of time (several weeks to months) should be reserved for studying material on a daily basis.
Courses helpful in preparation for the OAT include: one year of biology/zoology, one year of general college chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, and one year of college physics. The tests are comprised exclusively of multiple-choice test items presented in the English language.
How many letters of evaluation are required for optometry school?
There are different guidelines for each school. Optometry schools usually want to see letters from science professors, optometrists, employees, or individuals who can provide a "character reference". Regardless of the number and kind of evaluations required, it is the student's responsibility to check to see not only that the letters are written, but also that they have been received and filed with their application. The Pre-Health Advisor can also assist the student in getting their letters of evaluation prepared.
What is the optometry school interview like?
Most optometry schools interview their prospective students. A student should be prepared to talk about themselves and to have knowledge of the field of optometry. Also helpful is information regarding the school where a student is interviewing, including particular strengths, special programs in teaching, and other innovative programs for the students.
For assistance in preparing for the interviewing process, please contact the Pre-Health Advisor or the Career Services office to schedule a mock interview.
What types of extracurricular activities and work experience should I have in order to be a competitive applicant?
Activities that demonstrate leadership, service, commitment, responsibility, and the ability to interact effectively with others are among the qualities evaluated by admission committee representatives. Examples include community service, campus involvement, and participation in research, outside jobs, as well as interests and hobbies. Experience in an optometric setting is also strongly recommended.
"Quality and persistence are far more important than quantity"
Does Wright State have a pre-optometry student organization?
No. Currently there isn't a student organization specifically geared toward pre-optometry students. However, pre-optometry students join the premedical society. This organization will provide mentoring, educational speakers, volunteer and community service, and social activities. If you are interested in joining, please contact the Pre-Health Advisor.
For more information on optometry school admission statistics, please visit ASCO website.
- Optometry: A Career Guide. This book contains the latest information about optometry and programs available in the United States. You can submit a request a copy by writing:
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 510
Rockville, MD 20852
- Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
- Optometry Admission Test (OAT), Electronic Examinee guide & Practice test
- www.ExploreHealthCareers.org Sponsored by the American Dental Education Association, it provides about all health-related occupations.
- Health Professions Admissions Guide, Strategy for Success: www.naahp.org