Often confused with an ophthalmologist, an optometrist (also known as ophthalmic technician) is a professionally qualified primary eye care provider – akin to a family doctor for eyes. In India optometrists usually assist ophthalmologists or recommend patients to specialists for secondary and tertiary treatment.
An optometrist tests the visual acuity and prescribed corrective lenses. Adept at handling eye-testing equipment to examine in a person’s vision, the optometrist also fabricates lenses to prescribed specifications and fits them and other low vision aids to suit individual requirements. Hi-precision machines are used to polish and harden lenses.
With an increasing aged population and the growing incidence of macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, optometrists can be an important part of the primary treatment. Besides, the need for spectacles and contact lenses, low vision aids and co-management of eye disorders spells good news for optometry as a profession.
Optometrists usually work in eye hospitals, clinics and opticians’ outlets or with multinational vision care companies. You may also specialize in particular types of vision disorders (i.e. infractive errors like presbyopia, squints, colour blindness). After gaining experience in a private establishment or with a lens manufacturer, you can open your business.
You will be surprised to know that optometry features among the top 10 income-earning professions in the US. This 700-year old profession is perhaps one of the nearly extinct breeds of jobs that offer regular work hours. Flexibility in practice and myriad choices, in geographic location form the icing on the cake.
Moreover, with most people over 40 (and even earlier) requiring glasses/lenses, a skilled and experienced optometrist is always in demand. Faced with rising incidents of unqualified optometrists prescribing lenses in two-bit optical shops, of late there has been a demand for some sort of regularization to prevent malpractice.
Also log on to Indian Optometric Association’s website www.indian-optometric-association.com