What is Optometry?
Optometry is the independent primary health care profession that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system. Doctors of Optometry (O.D.) are the primary care doctors of the eye who perform comprehensive examinations on people of all ages to preserve ocular health by prescribing contact lenses and glasses, treating diseases such as glaucoma, performing specific surgical procedures, and providing pre- and post-operative care for eye surgery patients.  Additionally, the curriculum for the Doctor of Optometry consists of courses such as human anatomy, physiology and pharmacology that enable optometrists to often detect critical health issues (diabetes, hypertension, etc.) and refer patients for immediate treatment.

Where do Optometrists Practice?
One of the best ways to determine if optometry is the right career path for you is to shadow doctors of optometry in different settings. You’ll find optometrists in private practice, group practice and in community hospital settings. These locations provide the best understanding of what it means to be an optometrist. When you obtain your Doctor of Optometry degree, the opportunity for practice is not just limited to those locations. Optometrists can utilize their education for research, academics, consulting, in the military, in large corporations and as health care administrators. The opportunities are endless.

What is the difference between an Optometrist, an Ophthalmologist and an Optician?
    Optometrist: A doctor and primary eye care provider (O.D.)
    Ophthalmologist: A medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) specializing in eye disease who may perform ocular surgery
    Optician: A professional who specializes in fitting and grinding lenses and dispensing glasses
 
Why choose optometry as a career?
  • U.S. News & World Report listed optometry as one of the best jobs for investigative people, because it’s “a profession with a high cure rate, regular hours, good pay and realistic potential for being successfully self-employed.”
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 24 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will require more optometrists.
  • Forbes: Listed by Forbes as one of the top 10 careers in health professions
  • American Optometric Association: Optometry offers an average net income of $129,385 across the profession.
  • CNN Money: Listed as the ninth fastest growing job in America.
Why become an Optometrist?
  • High demand for optometrists—specifically in areas like rural Kentucky—as our population ages
  • Meaningfully making a difference in lives of your patients
  • Freedom to choose where you live and practice
  • Opportunity to specialize in specific areas of interest: geriatric, pediatric, contact lenses, patients with disabilities, to name a few
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Minimal emergency calls
  • Time you are able to spend with your patients
Why Kentucky?
The Better Access to Quality Eye Care Act was signed into law by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear in Feb. 2011. It allows optometrists perform a range of new procedures, including Yag capsulotomy — postcataract surgery — and argon laser trabeculoplasty and selective laser trabeculoplasty — both forms of glaucoma surgery. With this law, Kentucky became the third state in the nation to expand the law giving optometrists the ability to employ a wider range of treatment options for patients throughout the state. Two-thirds of Kentucky’s 120 counties do not have an ophthalmology practice, while optometrists have practices in 106 counties, including 77 percent of counties designated as “medically underserved.” With more than three million Kentuckians currently being served by doctors of optometry, these additional services make primary eye care more accessible to rural populations.   

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