How to Become an Optometrist (Essential Skills

You need to start asking the question about how to become an optometrist if you indeed have the nerves and think you have the full burning passion to be it. The optometrist profession is not an easy as it involves examining the eyes and related structures for defects or abnormalities. They typically provide comprehensive eye care for affected patients.

Optometrists receive training in refraction and monitoring of common uncomplicated eye conditions. They are not trained in any forms of surgery or laser procedures. Basic duties of an optometrist are:

  • Having consultations with patients to learn more about their optical health
  • Examining eyes for any abnormalities or sign of disease
  • Performing tests, such as reading charts, to monitor changes in vision
  • Diagnosing problems
  • Advising patients on suitable frames or contact lenses

According to WHO, optometry is a healthcare profession that is autonomous, educated, and regulated (licensed/registered), and optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of disease in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system.

Optometrists work everywhere from in hospitals to on the high street, examining their patient’s eyes and giving advice on how to solve vision problems.

Traditionally, an optometrist would stop short of any formal diagnosis and refer their patients on to a specialist for further treatment. However, these days they have become much more involved in primary care, offering vital support and improving quality of life for anyone struggling with their vision.

How to Become an Optometrist

Below are few steps to take when it comes to learning how to become an optometrist in your country, especially Canada or maybe in UK:

  • Training or Professional Study

Aspiring optometrists can prepare by completing a three or four-year undergraduate degree program in a basic science stream like biology or health science. The province of Quebec allows students to complete a two to three-year CEGEP degree before their Doctor of Optometry.

Students must then study for another four years to earn a Doctor of Optometry (OD) professional designation. This program provides in-depth training on how to diagnose eye disorders and diseases and covers topics like physiology and optics.

  • Gather the Experience

The next step toward becoming an optometrist is gaining professional experience. Consider applying for a shadowing experience or an internship to do so. This can provide you with the opportunity to follow a professional optometrist to learn about the daily responsibilities involved with this profession.

  • Get Your License

To work as an optometrist, you must obtain both your national and provincial license to practice. Provincial requirements include academic qualifications, practical experience, and a good grade on the national examination.

Most provinces require optometrists to renew their licenses annually and sometimes require you to complete a specified number of hours of continuing education between renewals. Expect to complete a licensing exam before obtaining your optometry license. Your licensing exam is administered by the Optometry Examination Board of Canada.

  • Get Employment

When you’ve completed your education and training, and have obtained a license, it’s time to apply for a job as an optometrist. Consider speaking to other professionals in your network to see if they know of any available roles. After years of working in a practice and building your reputation, you can open your own practice and become self-employed.

Essential Skills to Possess to Become an Optometrist

Here are major skills that an optometrist must possess in the race of being professionally excellent:

  • Interpersonal Skills

In the healthcare field, optometrists are less feared than dentists, but both professions work close to patients. Your interaction with people requires you to maintain a calm, professional manner and feel comfortable with close contact. This amicable manner should extend to all of your professional interactions, including those with office staff and colleagues.

  • Communication Skills

Communication skills are a crucial component of customer care and medical follow-ups. Optometrists educate patients on important details of everyday vision care, ocular health and hygiene, and specific treatment for injury or disease. They also need to communicate clearly with other specialists when making referrals or obtaining more information or professional advice on a patient’s condition.

Good communication with other staff members helps any practice run smoothly and keeps patients appropriately informed about their treatment and any issues they may encounter.

  • Language Skills

Language skills are key to good interpersonal communication. The ability to speak and write in more than one language is even more helpful when working with patients from different backgrounds and communities. Many bilingual practitioners find that fluency in another language qualifies them for more job offers and higher pay in certain regions of the US and many major metropolitan areas.

  • Decision-making Skills

Good decision-making is a reflection of a practitioner’s competency and facilitates a thoughtful process regarding a patient’s treatment. Decisions must be made on how to proceed with treatment plans after a diagnosis, whether to consult a colleague about imaging or when is the optimal time to expand the business. Clear thinking on both medical and business decisions helps keep small and large practices running smoothly.

  • Problem-solving Skills

Problem-solving skills are a significant part of clinical reasoning when diagnosing eye conditions and formulating appropriate treatment plans. As healthcare providers, optometrists rely on their knowledge and training to remedy even the most complicated cases with solid assessment, planning, and care. For practitioners running their own offices, problem-solving skills come in handy when negotiating insurance coverage, billing, and staffing issues.

  • Time Management Skills

Good time management skills and accurate scheduling for a self-employed optometrist in private practice make for an organized work environment. Time management is important in larger practices and in hospital settings as well, where individuals rely on efficiency in exam rooms and with follow-up paperwork and communication. Training and experience inform how much time to allow for an eye examination, refraction, or a contact lens fitting, and to keep schedules and appointments on track.

  • Hard Skills

A host of hard skills are required to provide ophthalmic and optometric care. Both require years of academic, technological, clinical, and medical training for diagnostic testing, testing for visual acuity, and vision correction procedures like Lasik surgery. Training focuses as much on anatomy as on patient care and business skills—all of which inform and provide structure for a successful career path.

Tools to be Used by Optometrist


Patients are individuals seeking medical care. Optometrists use patients by examining their eyes and diagnosing conditions. They also provide personalized vision therapy sessions with pediatric and adult patients. They conduct pre-testing procedures and advise patients on suitable eyewear. They even manage and treat patients with advanced glaucoma and retinal pathology.

Here’s how optometrists use patients:

  • Discovered and developed techniques to better administer visual field test primarily to geriatric patients.
  • Work alongside Ophthalmologists in group setting providing Co-management care to Cataract and Refractive surgery patients

Patient Care

Patient care is the process of identifying, diagnosing, and treating patients’ health problems. Optometrists use patient care to provide extensive support in all phases of patient care and management. They also work closely with other medical professionals to ensure optimal patient care. For instance, they may assist doctors during routine eye exams and prescribe medication when necessary. They also document patient care online, making it easier to access patient records and provide better care.

Here’s how optometrists use patient care:

  • Owned and operated the business and oversaw all aspects, including personnel, patient care, and insurance claims.
  • Developed practice protocols, which organized and improved patient care, insurance billing, and electronic medical records.


Diagnosis is the process of identifying a disease or condition. Optometrists use diagnosis to determine a patient’s corrective lens prescription, as well as to identify and treat eye diseases. They may use visual tests to help determine a diagnosis and provide post-examination counseling. They also refer patients to ophthalmologists for further diagnosis and treatment if necessary.

Here’s how optometrists use diagnosis:

  • Experienced in the diagnosis and management of ocular pathology with prescription of appropriate therapeutic agents.
  • Referred suspected systemic diseases for proper diagnosis and treatment and provided post examination counseling.

Customer Service

Customer service is about providing excellent care and support to customers and clients. Optometrists use customer service to deliver eye care and answer questions in a professional and friendly way. They handle front desk phones, schedule eye exams, and provide exceptional support to patients. They also practice good customer service and handle variety of customer service, resolving customer issues.

Here’s how optometrists use customer service:

  • Solo practitioner providing comprehensive and emergency eye care with superior customer service.
  • Provide excellent customer service while delivering an accurate vision care.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests are used by optometrists in their day-to-day job. They perform these tests as assigned by the optometrist and also use them to assess the eyes, muscles, and pupils. Optometrists order medications, laboratory, and diagnostic testing and also provide education to patients about these tests.

Here’s how optometrists use diagnostic tests:

  • Perform diagnostic tests as assigned by the Optometrist.
  • Prepped examination rooms and equipment, took patient history, educated patients, and conducted various pre-diagnostic tests.

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