Future Students & Residents | The Optometry Profession

Optometrists are highly educated and well trained primary eye-care providers. As important members of the health-care team, optometrists treat ocular diseases such as glaucoma, co-manage refractive procedures, fit medical devices such as contact lenses and prostheses, prescribe therapeutic medications, and treat amblyopia as well as binocular vision disorders. Additionally, optometrists are instrumental in referring patients to health-care specialists after the detection of ocular signs of systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

In today's market, practice opportunities for optometrists abound. Optometrists may elect to practice individually, join group practices, teach, conduct valuable research, participate in health-care administration,  or practice in military and public health-care settings. Optometrists are also important consultants in workplace designs, highway lighting, aviation, and sports vision.

Data from the American Optometric Association shows the average net incomes ranging from $140,013 for the primary practice of optometry to $172,356 for optometrists who own all or a portion of their practice. (Source: 2016 AOA Survey of Optometric Practice)

The Profession of Optometry's Outlook

As the third largest independent healthcare profession, optometry continues to have a very promising outlook. The demand for optometric services is expected to rise, according to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Optometry Association (AOA) in part because:

  • 70% of the eye care market in the U.S. is provided by Doctors of Optometry.
  • 90% of Americans 45 years of age and older will require visual correction.
  • More than 50% of Americans wear glasses or contact lenses.
  • The emergence of new state legislation is continuously expanding the scope of optometric practice.
  • The aging population is expected to boost the demand for optometrists for the treatment and care of age-related ocular diseases.
  • Approximately one-quarter of the current practicing population of optometrists are approaching retirement age. It is anticipated that by the year 2022, more than 8,100 optometrists will be needed.
  • The profession of optometry will benefit from the increased participation in vision care plans, favorable changes in Medicare laws and rising personal incomes.
  • Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 24% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.