The Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree requires four years after college; only 20% of OD's go on to post-graduate work beyond that. Newly-graduated OD's are often employed in a group practice or by ophthalmologists (MD physicians with medical school degrees and usually five years of post-doctoral residency), although other opportunities are available. Optometrists' duties include diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and vision disorders; the detection of general health problems; the prescribing of glasses, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy and medications; the performing of certain surgical procedures; and the counseling of patients regarding their surgical alternatives and vision needs, as related to their occupations, avocations and lifestyle. Virginia licensed OD's may prescribe all medications except Schedule 1 and 2 (controlled substances), including oral drugs, for the treatment of ocular diseases such as glaucoma. OD's can also perform minor, superficial surgeries such as the removal of foreign bodies or inserting tear-saving plugs. In addition, optometrists conduct pre- and post-surgical care of many common eye operations like cataract or LASIK surgery. Optometry has rapidly progressed over the last 20-30 years. OD's are now able to provide a majority of non-surgical eye care in the United States.
Competitive applicants for optometry school typically have at least a 3.2 GPA and good scores (320 or higher) on the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Students preparing for optometry have virtually the same prerequisites as pre-med students, and take the usual premedical curriculum. Students should observe one or two optometrists at work, through an externship program. Literature on optometry schools is available in the Pre-Professional Health Programs office (HHS 2154). The 19 schools or colleges of optometry in the continental U.S. have different requirements for admission. Students need to become knowledgeable about individual school requirements as soon as possible. Contact the PPH Programs office for more specific information. Additional information about the Pre-Optometry program can be found on the Information Sheet (see link below).
The Pre-Optometry Advisor is Dr. Jeffrey Andre (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Department of Psychology.
- JMU Pre-Optometry Advising Information Sheet (PDF)
- Online OAT Practice Test
- Optometry Schools (acceptance rate, tuition amount, avg GPA and entrance exams)
- Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry
- ASCO Optometric Education (admissions requirements handbook)
- Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
- Optometry School Statistics (PDF)
- Optometry School Course Prerequisites (PDF)