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What is Optometry?

Optometry is a career field filled with possibilities. Optometry offers flexibility, variety, gratification, good income, and freedom in choosing a location to practice - all while doing meaningful work. Learn more about optometry as a profession.

What is a Doctor of Optometry?  

A Doctor of Optometry (also called an OD or optometrist) is a primary health care provider that specializes in eye care and visual health. The American Optometric Association explains that optometrists “examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures and their related systemic conditions.”   

(Video courtesy of ASCO: Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry)

Where do Optometrists work?

The field of optometry offers many options for graduates to find career satisfaction, financial security, and a good balance between work and life.  Some modes of practice include the following:

Private Practice  Owning and operating an individual private practice and providing direct patient care.
Group Practice Working in a partnership or group practice with two or more ODs.
Retail/Optical Setting  Practicing as an independent practitioner in a retail or optical setting such as Pearl Vision, Costco, or Walmart.
Corporate / Industrial Working in a corporate setting to perform clinical research, develop eye-related products, or provide patient care within a clinic.
Military Optometry  Joining the military as an officer and providing eye care in a branch of the armed forces. 
Public Health/ Hospitals/ Interdisciplinary Care Working with other health care practitioners to provide interdisciplinary care in a hospital, community health center, or a clinical setting. 
VA Medical Centers Working within a VA (Veteran's Administration) setting to provide eye care to veterans.
Academics Working in a university setting to teach/mentor optometry students.
Research  Conducting research to advance optometric knowledge and treatment options for ocular conditions and diseases.
Optometric / Ophthalmologic Professional Settings Working in a setting with an ophthalmologist to co-manage patients.
Consultants Providing professional services to the ophthalmic industry, government, sports, education or other field.

What is the difference between an Optometrist, an Ophthalmologist, and an Optician?


  • An optometrist is a primary health care provider (OD) that specializes in eye care and visual health.


  • An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) specializing in eye disease who may perform ocular surgery. 


  • An optician is a professional who fits and grinds lenses and dispenses glasses. 

Learn more about optometry

Interested in learning more about what optometrists do or why you might choose it as a profession, visit one of the following pages:

What do optometrists do?Why choose optometry?

Additional Resources

To learn more about optometry, visit the following websites: