Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage disorders of the visual system, eye diseases, and injuries. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.
- Perform vision tests and analyze results
- Diagnose sight problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness and eye diseases, such as glaucoma
- Prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and medications
- Provide treatments such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation
- Provide pre- and postoperative care to patients undergoing eye surgery—for example, examining a patient’s eyes the day after surgery
- Evaluate patients for the presence of diseases such as diabetes and refer patients to other healthcare providers as needed
- Promote eye health by counseling patients, including explaining how to clean and wear contact lenses
Some optometrists spend much of their time providing specialized care, particularly if they are working in a group practice with other optometrists or physicians. For example, some optometrists mostly treat patients with only partial sight, a condition known as low vision. Others may focus on treating infants and children.
Many optometrists own their practice and may spend more time on general business activities such as hiring employees, ordering supplies, and marketing their business.
Optometrists also may work as postsecondary teachers, do research in optometry colleges, or work as consultants in the eye care industry.
Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists or dispensing opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery and treat eye disease in addition to examining eyes and prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. For more information on ophthalmologists, see the physicians and surgeons profile. Dispensing opticians fit and adjust eyeglasses and, in some states, fill contact lens prescriptions that an optometrist or ophthalmologist has written.