According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), “Doctors of Optometry (ODs) are the primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine, diagnose, 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 are trained to evaluate a patient’s visual condition and determine the best treatment for that condition. Conditions typically cared for by OD’s include: corneal abrasions, ulcers or infections, glaucoma and other eye diseases that require treatment with pharmaceutical agents, visual skill problems, poor vision-body coordination, and clarity problems or complications due to the aging process, disease, accident, or malfunction. Additionally, optometrists diagnose, manage, and refer systemic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and others that are often first detected in the eye. They also help patients determine whether they are candidates for new procedures in laser surgery. Most optometrists are in general practice, while others are involved in specialty practice such as geriatrics/low vision, pediatrics, sports vision, occupational vision, vision therapy or contact lenses. Most optometrists are self-employed, receive relatively few emergency calls, and can establish a flexible work schedule. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median national income of optometrists in 2020 was $118,050. The field is projected to grow 9% by the year 2030.
Education & Training
The Doctor of Optometry degree requires completion of a 4-year program at an accredited optometry school. Although not required, the vast majority of students accepted to optometry programs hold a bachelor’s degree. After completion of the OD program, many individuals choose to complete an additional year in a residency program that can enhance employment possibilities and provide further specialization/training. Currently, there are 23 schools and colleges of Optometry in the US and Puerto Rico. Of those, three programs are located in California. All U.S. optometry schools require the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), which focuses on natural sciences (biology, inorganic/organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning. Scores around 330 (out of 400) for the OAT are considered competitive. The average overall GPA for accepted applicants in the 2019 - 2020 cycle for all optometry schools was 3.46.
Note: Admission prerequisites vary by institution. Some schools will not accept AP credit for prerequisites. Check requirements carefully! A compiled list of program specific information can be found here, from the OptomCAS website.
See below for an example of admission course prerequisites that may be required at CA programs. Please research professional programs for the specific admission requirements. If you need guidance on how to search for schools, please see the Peer Advisors during drop-in hours.
General Biology: Bio 160, 161, 162
Bio, Mcro, Bchm, and Msci majors should enroll in Mcro 224.
Microbiology requirements may vary between schools. Check individual school requirements closely.
Note: Engineering & Physical Science majors should enroll in Chem 124, 125, 126
Organic Chemistry: Chem 312 or 216
Biochemistry: Chem 314 (previously known as Chem 313) or Chem 369 (previously known as Chem 371)
Anatomy/Physiology: Bio 231, 232 (for all majors except Bio) or Bio 361, 406-409, & 426
Psychology: Psy 201 or 202
English: 2 quarters of reading/composition + 1 additional ENGL course for 1 full year
Mathematics: Math 141 or 161, and Stat 218
Physics: Phys 121, 122, 123 or Phys 141, 142, 143, and Phys 125
- Phys 125 is a 1-unit lab that corresponds to Phys 121 or 141 and is generally taken during your last year at Cal Poly. In order to get on the waitlist, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, major, health profession of interest, and Cal Poly email address. Permission numbers will be given out based on time of graduation.
Immunology (Bio 426)
ENGL GE: 3rd quarter of English
Last updated 09/08/2022.
Schools/Programs in California
Professional Association Links
For more information, visit the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) website at https://optometriceducation.org/.