"Doctors of optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions."
– American Optometric Association, 1993.
An optometrist is an eye specialist that has earned the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Optometrists examine eyes for both vision and health problems, and correct refractive errors by prescribing eye glasses and contact lenses. Students interested in learning more about the Optometry profession can visit the American Optometric Association.
An ophthalmologist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor who also specializes in eye and vision care but differ from optometrists in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. Ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medications and perform eye surgery. They also write prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses.
There are 23 schools in the US that offer optometry programs, including the Michigan College of Optometry (MCO) at Ferris State University. For all programs, students must earn a bachelor's degree (an allied health or science major is required or recommended by all programs) prior to beginning an optometry program.
The outline of classes listed below do not constitute a major but are the classes that Optometry programs require a student to take for admission purposes.
One academic year
|ENG 1020 - Basic Composition||3 cr.|
|ENG 3010 - Intermediate Composition||3 cr.|
Calculus 1 one course
|MAT 2010 - Calculus 1||4 cr.|
One academic year of Inorganic Chemistry with laboratory
|CHM 1100/1130 - General Chemistry 1||5 cr.|
|CHM 1140/1150 - General Chemistry 2||5 cr.|
One year of Organic Chemistry with laboratory
|CHM 1240/1250 - Organic Chemistry 1||5 cr.|
|CHM 2220/2230 - Organic Chemistry 2||5 cr.|
One course - check program specifics
BIO 3100 - Biochemistry
|CHM 5600 - Survey of Biochemistry|
CHM 6620 - Metabolism: Pathways & Regulation
One academic year with laboratory
|BIO 1500/1501 - Basic Life Diversity||4 cr.|
|BIO 1510/1511 - Basic Life Mechanisms||4 cr.|
One course with laboratory
|BIO 2270/2271 - Microbiology||5 cr.|
Non-calculus based; one academic year with laboratory
|PHY 2130/2131 - Physics 1||5 cr.|
|PHY 2140/2141 - Physics 2||5 cr.|
|STA 1020 - Elementary Statistics||3 cr.|
|MAT 2210 - Probability & Statistics||4 cr.|
|PH 3200 - Biostatistics||4 cr.|
|PSY 1010 - Intro to Psychology (with lab)||4 cr.|
|PSY 1020 - Intro to Psychology||3 cr.|
Additional classes may be required depending on the particular optometry program. Please check with a Pre-Optometry Advisor for more details on these classes.
OAT (Optometry Admission Test)
All students applying to optometry schools must take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). The OAT is an admission test designed to provide optometry education programs with a means to assess an applicant's potential for success.
The OAT consists of a battery of four tests on the following: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Physics, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.
The OAT allows for unlimited repeats however students must wait 90 days after three attempts and permission is required. There are numerous resources for OAT preparation and students should plan on spending about 2 months to prepare. The OAT costs $450 and is administered year round by Prometric test centers in the United States and Canada.
OptomCAS is the centralized application service for schools of optometry. Most schools have a supplemental application and deadlines run from December through May. Most schools require an on campus interview which can range in format from traditional, MMI and group activities. Letters of evaluation are required. Examples of letters include OD, academic advisor, personal letter, and instructor. Shared admissions begins in March which allows schools to know where students are holding spots.