Optometrists are primary care health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of diseases, disorders, and injuries of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. They prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, glasses, contact lenses and perform certain surgical procedures. They also aid other health care professionals in the diagnosis of systemic conditions that produce symptoms that manifest in the eye and vision.

After completing their Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree, optometrists must complete a licensure examination, for the state(s) in which they plan to practice. This exam will include a written portion and a clinical portion. Many states will allow optometrists to use the results of the examinations given to them by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry during their academic career as optometry school students as a substitute for the written portion(s) of their licensure exam.

Some optometry schools may have other graduate degrees available for students to earn in combination with their optometry degree, including (but not limited to): Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.), or Master of Public Health (M.P.H.).

All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia require optometrists to take continuing education courses to maintain their licensure.

You can learn more about this health profession at the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), FutureEyeDoc.org, and ExploreHealthCareers.org.

Additional Resources

Professional associations, professional education associations, and affinity groups provide news, professional development, and community. This list is not exhaustive but instead provides some examples of organizations that may be of interest to pre-professional students. UMBC does not guarantee, approve, or endorse the information or products available on these sites.

Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry: https://optometriceducation.org/

Organizations with a professional affiliation with ASCO: https://optometriceducation.org/about-asco/allied-organizations/ 

American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/?sso=y 

National Optometric Association (for underrepresented students in optometry): https://nationaloptometricassociation.com/ 

Pre-Health Dreamers  (organization for DACA-status students): https://www.phdreamers.org/