Optometrists are state-licensed eye and vision care professionals. They examine, diagnose, and treat diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. Optometrists prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses and can perform certain surgical procedures in some states. They also identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.
Typical training includes completion of a four-year college degree followed by four years of professional education leading to the doctor of optometry (OD) degree. Optometrists can also complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice (e.g. cornea and contact lenses or low vision rehabilitation).
An optometrist has the ability to evaluate, diagnose, and treat eye health problems. Their treatment includes prescribing eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye drops and other medication, vision therapy, and low vision rehabilitation. An optometrist who specializes in low vision helps those who suffer from uncorrectable eye disease even if their usual interventions are ineffective. They work closely with vision rehabilitation specialists, orientation and mobility specialists, and occupational therapists to prescribe lighting, contrast, and/or low vision devices. Optometrists can provide low vision evaluation and provide the order for Medicare-reimbursed occupational therapy.