A Doctor of Optometry (OD) specializes in:
- Performing vision tests to check for sight problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness
- Checking for eye diseases, such as glaucoma
- Prescribing eyeglasses, contact lenses and medications
- Providing other treatments, such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation
- Providing pre- and postoperative care to patients undergoing eye surgery
- Evaluating patients for the presence of diseases such as diabetes and refer them to other healthcare providers as needed
- Promoting eye health by counseling patients
You must earn a Doctor of Optometry (OD) from a college that meets accreditation standards set by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Most schools of optometry require that students complete a bachelor's degree before pursuing their OD.
Prerequisites for admission vary by school. The Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS), maintains a list of school and college prerequisites. Typical prerequisite courses include:
- General biology with lab (6-8 credits)
- Inorganic chemistry with lab (6-8 credits)
- Organic chemistry with lab (4-8 credits)
- Physics with lab (6-8 credits)
- Microbiology with lab (3-5 credits)
- English (6 credits)
- Mathematics (3-6 credits)
In addition to satisfying pre-optometry course requirements, applicants must submit test scores from the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). The OAT includes four sections: Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning.
GPA and Extracurricular Experience
In the 2018-19 application cycle, the average cumulative GPA for matriculating students was 3.44. Additional data on applicants and program cohorts, including average OAT scores, is available from ASCO.
Competitive applicants should also have experience working with an optometrist, whether through shadowing, volunteering or paid employment.
All schools and colleges of optometry participate in OptomCAS. Applicants who apply through OptomCAS submit a completed web-based application comprised of biographical data, colleges and universities attended, academic course history, letters of recommendation, work experience, extracurricular activities, honors and a personal essay.
OptomCAS typically opens in late June/early July. Application deadlines vary, and it is your responsibility to know the deadlines for each schools to which you apply. Apply well in advance to have the best chance of admission.
- American Optometric Student Association
- Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)
- Eye on Optometry Blog
- Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
- Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS)