How to Become an Eye Doctor (Quick Overview)
An eye doctor is a medical professional who diagnoses and treats diseases of the eyes. To become an eye doctor, you must:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably with an emphasis on pre-med or biological sciences.
- Pass the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) so you can apply to an optometry program.
- Get accepted into an optometry school and complete your Doctor of Optometry (OD) program.
- Gain experience in clinical practice under supervision by an experienced eye care provider.
- Pass the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam. You should also pass any additional tests required to practice optometry in your region.
- Consider getting additional certifications, such as the American Board of Optometry board certification.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Optometry School
Choosing an optometry school can be difficult, but knowing which factors to consider when will best prepare you for a career in optometry.
Some factors to consider include:
When attending an optometry school, it’s recommended to find an accessible one. Consider how long it takes to get to school if you're commuting. If you're staying close to school, you may want to look at housing options.
Tuition costs may be higher than in other health professions because optometry requires extensive training. The average tuition per semester can range between $15,000 and $40,500. However, some programs offer scholarships and grants.
The facilities in a school are important to consider. Schools with modern equipment have better resources for students. Look for schools with state-of-the-art technology and laboratories for better learning.
When choosing an optometry school, the student body size can affect your learning opportunity. For instance, a small class size means more personal attention. On the other hand, large classes mean less individualized attention.
Optometry faculty members play a vital role in teaching students. They provide guidance on coursework and help students succeed. Faculty members can vary in expertise and knowledge, so choosing a faculty that matches your interests and goals is essential.
Optometry School Applicant Statistics
The number of applicants has stayed in a similar range for the past five years.
In 2017, there were over 2,527 OptomCAS verified applicants for the 23 schools and colleges of optometry.1 This number rose to 2,684 individuals for the 2020-2021 application cycle.
Here are some additional statistics about the 2020-2021 application cycle from the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry:2
- 2,684 people applied for admission to the schools and colleges of optometry in the United States, with a total number of 12,513 applications
- The average number of applications per applicant was 4.66
- Applicants had an average overall cumulative GPA of 3.36
According to IBISWorld, there are 162,791 people employed in the Optometrists industry in the U.S. as of 2022.3
In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has the following statistics regarding optometry:
- The median annual wage for optometrists was $124,300 in May 2021
- 2.47% of industry employment are employed in the offices of other health practitioners
- Outpatient care centers are the highest-paid industry for optometrists, with a mean hourly wage of $84.13
12 Best Optometry Schools
These are the 12 best optometry schools you can attend in the U.S.:
1. University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry
The University of California, Berkeley has the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. They provide over 400 hours of preclinical training during your first two years. By the time you graduate, you will have examined over 2,500 patients.
Address: Minor Hall, 380 Minor Ln, Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone: (510) 642-2020
2. Illinois College of Optometry
The Illinois College of Optometry offers an innovative curriculum where you work with real patients in the clinic from your first year.
The curriculum combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience in their state-of-the-art clinical facilities. This helps ensure that you are prepared to practice optometry in any setting.
Address: 3241 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60616
Phone: (312) 949-7000
3. Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Salus University
The Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University is one of the oldest optometry schools in the country. They offer a comprehensive curriculum with early clinical experience and extensive externships.
You can also enhance your program through elective courses and/or a residency program. An accelerated program is also available, allowing you to complete your optometry degree through a 36-month campus-based program.
Address: 8360 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 1907
Phone: (215) 780-1400
4. University of Houston College of Optometry
The University of Houston College of Optometry offers a comprehensive curriculum that includes clinical experience in its state-of-the-art facilities. With the U.H. Health – Eye Care clinic, you can practice optometry in a real-world setting.
U.H.'s optometry program also offers a different set of training every year. This allows you to have a unique learning experience.
Address: 4849 Calhoun Rd #100, Houston, TX 77004
Phone: (210) 883-1190
5. Western University College of Optometry
Western University College of Optometry's curriculum is designed to prepare you for a successful career in optometry. They emphasize optometric rehabilitation, including neuro-optometry.
The WesternU Health Eye Care Institute also offers a wide range of clinical services. They have extensive experience in treating all types of vision and eye conditions.
Address: 701 E 2nd St, Pomona, CA 91766
Phone: (909) 623-6116
6. Indiana University School of Optometry
Indiana University's School of Optometry offers a four-year course that covers clinical and practical facets of optometry. Their Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree program makes you ready to examine patients in just 20 months.
Address: 107 S. Indiana Avenue Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Phone: (812) 855 4447
7. University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry has an excellent program that prepares you for a successful career in optometry. Their program also emphasizes optometric research, allowing you to work on projects with faculty members.
They also allow you to combine your four-year Doctor of Optometry degree with an additional degree. This allows you to understand the complexities of optometry better.
Address: Henry Peters Building, 1716 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35233
Phone: (205) 934-3036
8. Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry
The Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry opened its Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree program in the Fall of 2009. Although relatively new, the program is already highly respected.
Their curriculum offers face-to-face instruction, an inter-health professional campus, and early exposure to clinical settings.
Address: 19555 N 59th Ave. Glendale, AZ 85308
Phone: (623) 572-3200
9. Southern California College of Optometry
The Southern California College of Optometry offers a well-rounded program that covers various aspects of optometry.
Their curriculum has an impressive network of residency sites and offers exceptional resident training. This allows you to gain experience in various optometry settings.
Address: 2575 Yorba Linda Blvd. Fullerton, CA 92831
Phone: (714) 449-7400
10. Kentucky College of Optometry
The Kentucky College of Optometry has a community of faculty and staff dedicated to helping you become a successful optometrist.
Their curriculum is designed to provide unique clinical experiences and a challenging curriculum. This allows you to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career in optometry.
Address: 147 Sycamore St, Pikeville, KY 41501
Phone: (606) 218-5250
11. Pacific University
Pacific University's College of Optometry prepares you for optometry licensure and practice. Their program consists of academic and laboratory experiences integrated with clinical work.
Address: 2043 College Way, Forest Grove, OR 97116
12. The Ohio State University College of Optometry
The Ohio State University is one of the largest universities in the U.S. In their Doctor of Optometry program, you'll learn from the finest optometrists in the world.
Their program blends clinical and research so that you receive an excellent education that prepares you for an optometry career.
Address: 338 W 10th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: (614) 292-2647
Optometry Career Outlook
There is a positive outlook regarding optometry careers. This means that job opportunities should increase in the following years:
Here are some statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031.
- On average, there are also about 1,700 openings for optometrists projected each year, on average, over the decade.
This increase in opportunities for optometry jobs results from better technology in the field. Some of the openings are also from professionals who have left the field. This may be due to retirement or a change of career direction.
List of All Colleges and Schools of Optometry in the United States
|Alabama||University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry||Henry Peters Building1716 University BlvdBirmingham, AL 35233||(205) 934-3036|
|Arizona||Arizona College of Optometry - Midwestern University||19555 N 59th Ave. Glendale, AZ 85308||(623) 572-3200|
|California||Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University||2575 Yorba Linda Blvd. Fullerton, CA 92831||(714) 449-7400|
|California||University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry||Minor Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720||(510) 642-2020|
|California||WesternU College of Optometry||701 E 2nd St, Pomona, CA 91766||(909) 623-6116|
|Florida||College of Optometry, Nova Southeastern University||3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796||(800) 541-6682|
|Illinois||Chicago College of Optometry, Midwestern University||555 31st St, Downers Grove, IL 60515||(630) 960-3007|
|Illinois||Illinois College of Optometry||3241 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60616||(312) 949-7000|
|Indiana||Indiana University School of Optometry||107 S. Indiana Avenue Bloomington, IN 47405-7000||(812) 855 4447|
|Kentucky||Kentucky College of Optometry, University of Pikeville||147 Sycamore St, Pikeville, KY 41501||(606) 218-5250|
|Massachusetts||School of Optometry, MCPHS University||179 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115||(617) 732 2850|
|Massachusetts||New England College of Optometry||424 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02115||(617) 266-2030|
|Michigan||Michigan College of Optometry, Ferris State University||1124 S State St, Big Rapids, MI 49307||(231) 591 3700|
|Missouri||St. Louis College of Optometry, University of Missouri||1 University Blvd. 331 Marillac Hall St. Louis, MO 63121-4400||(314) 516-5606|
|New York||College of Optometry, State University of New York (SUNY)||33 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036||(212) 938-4000|
|Ohio||The Ohio State University College of Optometry||338 W 10th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210||(614) 292-2647|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma College of Optometry, Northeastern State University||1001 N Grand Ave, Tahlequah, OK 74464||(918) 444-4000|
|Oregon||Pacific University College of Optometry||2043 College Way, Forest Grove, OR 97116||(503)-352-6151|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Salus University||8360 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 1907||(215) 780-1400|
|Puerto Rico||School of Optometry, Inter American University of Puerto Rico||500 John Will Harris, Bayamón, 00957, Puerto Rico||(787) 765-1915|
|Tennessee||Southern College of Optometry||1245 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN||(901)-722-3200|
|Texas||University of Houston College of Optometry||4849 Calhoun Rd #100, Houston, TX 77004||(713) 743-7141|
|Texas||School of Optometry, University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg||9725 Datapoint Dr, San Antonio, TX 78229||(210) 883-1190|
|Utah||College of Optometry, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions||122 E 1700 S building 3, Provo, UT 84606||(801) 375-5125|
Colleges/Schools of Optometry in Canada
|Québec||Université de Montréal||3744 Rue Jean-Brillant Bureau 110, Montréal, QC H3T 1P1||(514) 343-6082|
|Ontario||University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science||University of Waterloo, 200 Columbia St W, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1||(519) 888-4567 ext. 33178|
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