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What Optometrists Do

Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the body related to vision. They also diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.


Optometrists typically do the following:

Some optometrists spend much of their time providing specialized care, particularly if they are working in a group practice with other optometrists or doctors. For example, some optometrists mostly treat patients with only partial or no sight, a condition known as low vision. Others may focus on pre- or postoperative care if they work in a facility that does many eye surgeries. Optometrists may also teach or do research in optometry colleges or work as consultants in the eye care industry. Those who teach are classified as postsecondary school teachers. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.   

Many optometrists own their practice and may spend more time on general business activities such as hiring employees and ordering supplies. Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists and with dispensing opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery and treat eye disease in addition to examining eyes and prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Dispensing opticians fit and adjust eyeglasses and in some states fill contact lens prescriptions that an optometrist or ophthalmologist has written. For more information, see the profile on dispensing opticians.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition