Optometrists (NOC 3121)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Optometrists examine eyes to diagnose and manage eye disease. They prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses as well as recommend treatments to correct vision problems.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of an optometrist is like.
Common job titles
  • OD (doctor of optometry)
  • optometrist

Duties

Optometrists:

  • Examine patients’ eyes, conduct tests and use instruments to assess eye health
  • Diagnose, monitor and use non-surgical treatments to deal with eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Spot signs of overall health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Refer patients to ophthalmologists (for further medical treatment or eye surgery) and other medical professionals, as needed 
  • Prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • Educate patients on contact lens use and care 
  • Provide information on eye care
  • Prescribe medications
  • Remove foreign matter from the eye
  • See patients before and after eye surgeries

Optometrists may specialize in areas, including dry eye care, vision therapy, low vision treatment and specialty contact lens fitting.

Work environment

Most optometrists work in their own private practice, a group practice, a clinic or a community health centre. Some have a practice within a retail eyewear store.

Optometrists generally keep regular business hours. Occasionally, they may be called in after hours for an emergency. Many offices are also open on Saturdays. Optometrists working in a private or group practice may be able to choose when and how many hours they work.

Optometrists deal one-on-one with patients. They also often work as a team with ophthalmologists and other health-care professionals.

Insights from industry

As B.C.’s population expands and ages, the demand for optometrists is increasing. Retirements are also expected to bring about many new openings. Demand for optometrists is especially high in smaller communities. 

Optometrists play an important role in the overall health of their patients. The early signs of many conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure, are visible first in the eyes.

New technologies continue to offer better ways for optometrists to diagnose and manage eye disease.  

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Most new optometrists join an established optometrist’s practice. New graduates enjoy the mentorship this can provide.

After gaining experience, some will open their own practice, either independently or in partnership with other optometrists.

Additional resources