Becoming an optometrist requires a solid scientific background, technical aptitude and excellent communication skills to help people look after their vision and eye health.
Your training will involve high quality academic work, practical assessment and direct contact with patients through clinical placements.
At City, University of London our optometry courses are professionally recognised, giving you the perfect grounding and a clear pathway to begin your career as an optometrist.
What can I expect from a career as an optometrist?
You can expect a varied career, working with patients of all ages with a range of needs.
You will combine clinical knowledge and professional judgement with sound interpersonal skills to support your patients and put them at their ease.
You will need patience and precision to operate complex technical equipment and apply scientific methods to interpret results.
As an optometrist you will:
- Speak to patients to establish their case histories
- Examine patients' eyes to detect vision defects, injury, disease and signs of general health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure
- Refer patients to specialists or other healthcare professionals for treatment where necessary
- Prescribe glasses and contact lenses and help with fitting
- Work with other healthcare professionals to manage long-term eye health conditions
- Offer advice and reassurance to patients about vision and eye health.
If you choose to buy into or manage a practice through a franchise, partnership or as a sole trader, you will also be responsible for staff training, business development, sales and retail management.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming an optometrist, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career as an optometrist, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
Who can I work for as an optometrist?
Optometrists work in a variety of settings, including high street optometrists, industry and research, teaching, hospitals and clinics and testing people’s sight in their own homes.
Most optometrists work in high street community practices, which may be independent or part of a regional or national chain and which vary in size.
If you decide to work in a hospital or clinic, you will typically be part of a wider team of eye specialists and healthcare professionals. You’ll work with those patients in most need of urgent attention, as well as treating and managing conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Many optometry settings allow for part-time, locum or flexible working.
What about optometry work experience?
Clinical placements and working at our own in-house specialist clinic are core parts of our optometry programmes and you will gain valuable experience of working directly with patients as you study.
Supplementing your clinical placements with work experience at an optometry practice or hospital ophthalmology department at weekends or during university breaks will strengthen your skills further.
Work experience can also support your applications for the one-year pre-registration training placement you need to complete before you can register with the General Optical Council.
Some larger chains offer summer programmes for students between their second and third undergraduate year. Details of these will be available on the companies’ websites.
What are my prospects as an optometrist?
Optometry is an evolving field and technical advances could mean more functions becoming automated over time. This could result in the role moving further towards interpreting test results and making clinical decisions.
Already there are opportunities for optometrists to manage and prescribe for some eye conditions and multi-disciplinary working with medical and other healthcare professionals is likely to be an increasingly important part of the profession.
As your career progresses, you could specialise in an area like paediatric optometry, contact lenses, sports vision or low vision.
If education interests you then you might consider combining academic teaching or research with your practitioner role.
As an optometrist, you will never stop learning and continuing professional development will be a constant feature of your career.