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Doctor of Optometry
What is a Doctor of Optometry?
Optometry is a healthcare profession that specializes in the examination, diagnosis, and care of the visual system. The American Optometric Association defines doctors of optometry (ODs/optometrists) as independent primary healthcare professionals who examine, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures, as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.
- Doctors of optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, and contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures.
- Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.
- An 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 (OD) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.
- Optometrists are eye healthcare professionals state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.
Why Become an Optometrist?
- Optometrists change lives! You will have a real opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives by providing vital healthcare services to the community. Imagine helping a child see their parents for the first time, diagnosing and treating a patient’s ocular disease, or providing eye glasses to a population that has no access to eye care. You can make a profound impact on the health and well-being of others.
- Optometry is a rewarding career! You will have excellent career opportunities, with the ability to work in a variety of settings, including private practice, group practice, retail/optical, corporate/industrial, military, VA medical centers, public health/hospitals/interdisciplinary settings, academics, and research. Also, being an optometrist allows for a flexible schedule and regular hours (the average optometrist works 37.3 hours per week). Data from the American Optometric Association shows that average net incomes range from $140,013 for the primary practice of optometry to $172,356 for optometrists who own all or a portion of their practice.
- Optometry is high in demand! A recent U.S. News and World Report article described optometry as one of the Top 10 leading professions of this decade, with employment projected to grow by 33 percent through 2020. CNN Money has listed optometry as the ninth fastest growing profession in America.
Pacific University offers a four-year doctor of optometry program preparing tomorrow's optometrists for licensure and practice. Our core perspective on optometry education is distinctive. We believe that vision and eye health are foundational to people’s success and enjoyment of life — throughout their lives. Our approach to curriculum and course design, delivery, and sequencing is thoughtful, based on 75 years of experience fulfilling our mission and supporting an advancing profession.
The curriculum consists of academic and laboratory experiences integrated with clinical work. The fourth year is entirely clinical, consisting of four full-time rotations, with over 120 sites in our network, including international opportunities. Our students start gaining real-world experience right away. During the first semester of the first year, students provide care and receive direct outreach experience with a diverse patient population. By the time they graduate, they will have rotated through multiple clinics, serving a wide range of patients.
Pacific University graduates are fully qualified to practice in any state in the U.S. and province in Canada, the curriculum far exceeding the most stringent educational requirements. The curriculum also prepares students for successful completion of the exams administered by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) and Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC). Our students typically score above the national average on the exams, which reflects the excellent education our students receive here at Pacific University, and the hard work, dedication and focus our students and faculty bring to the classroom every day.
In addition to clinical training, Pacific's College of Optometry demonstrates its commitment to quality optometric research by offering all students an elective research thesis opportunity, encouraging and providing funds for faculty to attend scientific meetings and providing research facilities. Conferences on campus allow practitioners, students, faculty and other researchers the opportunity to exchange findings and information.
Professor Graham Erickson wrote an article about sports vision and optimizing visual performance.
Kennedy Antoniuk '16, OD '19 authored an optometry article about children's eye exams.