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What is Optometry? An in-depth explanation.

Optometry investigates vision function and ocular health. As the word etymologically suggests, optometry is primarily concerned with the measurement of vision and is an independent and autonomous profession in the field of health. Studies in optometry are university-level and include extensive training, both theoretical and practical, in the fields of optics, physiology, neurology and vision-related pathology.
Traditionally, the optometry area has focused primarily on correcting refractive errors with glasses. However, modern optometry has evolved over time, so the curriculum also includes significant training in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases in most countries around the world, where the profession is established and regulated.

Optometrists during eye examination of the fundus.
Optometrist performs indirect ophthalmoscopy.

How to become a Doctor of Optometry (OD)

Optometry is officially recognized in many countries. Most of them have training rules and practices. Optometrists, like many other healthcare professionals, need to undergo continuous training to keep up to date. The World Optometry Council has online resources that provide basic information on optometrists in more than 46 countries.

Optometrists (also known as Doctors of Optometry 1. in the United States and Canada, 2. those who hold the representative degree in the United Kingdom and 3. worldwide graduates with an Optometry Doctor degree, OD) are health professionals who provide primary refractive eye care and extensive research into the detection and treatment of various visual disorders and eye diseases. As a regulated profession, the scope of work of optometrists may vary from place to place. For example, conditions or diseases discovered outside the area of optometry (i.e. conditions or diseases requiring special medical or surgical intervention) are referred to a treatment specialist, usually an ophthalmologist, who specializes in medical and surgical eye care. Optometrists often work closely with other eye-care professionals, such as ophthalmologists and opticians, to ensure high quality and effective eye-care for everyone.

What an optometrist does?

The main objective of optometrists is to diagnose, improve and treat visual impairments at every level with the help of glasses, contact lenses, filters, low vision aids and personalized recovery programs. In some countries, optometrists may use pharmaceutical preparations or even perform a limited range of surgical interventions. An optometrist is capable of recognizing many pathological conditions but should only deal with them in collaboration with the ophthalmologist.

Optometry around the world.


As defined by ECOO (European Council of Optometry and Optics): “Optometry is an autonomous teaching profession in the health sector which is subject to certain rules, namely that it is carried out only by graduates of accredited schools who have obtained a business licence. Optometrists provide basic eye and vision tests, including refractive (and prescription) exams, the selection and treatment of appropriate ‘refractive devices’, the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and the restoration of normal vision.

United States

Doctors of Optometry or Optometrists in the US mainly work in the primary eye-care field. They provide comprehensive ophthalmic care and medical care, but generally they do not perform surgical eye-procedures. They are trained and authorized to prescribe few eye medications (like prescribed eye drops), various oral medications and drugs for diagnostic purposes. In some countries, optometrists are allowed to perform certain types of eye surgery as well.

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