An optometrist is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems and other abnormalities. Doctors of Optometry (O.D's) provide treatment by prescribing ophthalmic lenses or other optic aids, providing vision therapy to preserve or restore maximum efficiency in vision, and in some states are authorized to prescribe drugs in the treatment of certain eye diseases. O.D's can also detect general diseases of the human body that have the potential capacity to affect vision, such as diabetes, hypertension, and arteriosclerosis. The optometrist differs from the ophthalmologist, a physician who is highly trained in eye surgery and treatment of eye diseases; and the optician, who fills lens prescriptions written by the optometrist or ophthalmologist.
There is no one prescribed program for admission to optometry school. Students must prepare themselves with a basic background in chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology as well as the social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. Beyond this basic preparation, you should choose a major that interests you. Students are advised to consult with the Pre-Professional advisor at each stage of optometry school preparation and the application process; assistance is available through individual advising sessions, mock interviews, personal statement critiques, workshops, and numerous printed materials.
Specific course requirements vary somewhat for each optometry program, but the following courses will fulfill those that are generally required. It is the applicants responsibility to determine the requirements of the school(s) of his/her choice and to fulfill those requirements before the projected date of matriculation. Please consult "the Admissions Requirements for Schools and Colleges of Optometry" available in the PGSP library, or at the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry website: www.opted.org. In general, courses at UNR that fulfill the basic requirements for entry into optometry schools are:
*Due to the changes in course offerings, please refer to http://www.chem.unr.edu for additional information.
Economics, Speech, Statistics, Sociology, and Biochemistry
The Doctor of Optometry degree program consists of 4 years of specialized professional education and clinical training. Some programs accept applicants who have completed a minimum of 3 years of undergraduate study; however most programs prefer or will require completion of an undergraduate degree prior to matriculation. You may want to check the website of the American Optometric Association at http://www.aoa.org/.
The application process for most optometry school starts approximately 12-15 months prior to your matriculation date. Students need to obtain application materials from the individual schools in the summer or fall one year before they plan to enter optometry school. To request an application, call or write to the school directly, or check the school's website. Check with each school to find out the earliest they begin accepting applications; it is best to apply as early as possible. Since each optometry school has its own admissions process, it is important that you contact each school to determine the admission requirements and application deadlines. Most, but not all, schools interview applicants as part of the process. Applicants are also advised to get a copy of "Optometry: A Career With a Vision," which gives descriptions and comparisons of individual programs, entering class profiles, costs, etc. You may obtain this at no cost by writing the American Optometric Association, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd, St Louis, MO 63141, or call (314) 991-4100, aaopt.org.
The OAT is currently required by all colleges of optometry and tests academic ability and scientific comprehension. The test is given in February and October each year. It is recommended to take the February exam in order to have an early application. The test covers the following areas: Quantitative Reasoning, Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology and General and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension and Physics. OAT Applications are available from the Optometry Admission Testing Program, (312) 440-2693.
Three to four letters of recommendation are required for application to optometry school. They should be from a faculty member and from a health science professional, preferably an optometrist who can evaluate your potential in the field (check each school's literature for specifics). You may consider storing your letters with a document delivery service such as Interfolio, you can find more information on their website, Interfolio.
While academics are a very important part of being accepted into an optometry school, the schools and colleges are not just looking for the 4.0G.P.A students. They prefer to see well-rounded applicants who are involved in a variety of extra curricular activities while still doing well academically. In addition, volunteer or paid experience with an optometrist is essential to your preparation for optometry school.