Doctors of optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. Optometrists examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Optometrists also do testing to determine the patient’s ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, and to judge depth and see colors accurately. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medicines to treat eye diseases.
As primary eye care providers, optometrists are an integral part of the health care team and an entry point into the health care system. They are skilled in the co-management of care that affects the eye health and vision of their patients and an excellent source of referral to other health care professionals.
The optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete a residency.