Optometrists carry out detailed eye examinations to test vision and identify problems.

What does an optometrist do?

This role involves using a range of instruments and traditional tools (such as reading charts) to test and measure a client's vision. An optometrist would then make a diagnosis and give advice. This could include prescribing, fitting and supplying spectacles or contact lenses, and discussing the suitability and shape of spectacle frames.

Using their knowledge of eye diseases, if an optometrist detects abnormalities – including conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure – they would refer clients to specialists or ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) when necessary.

This role may focus on a particular area, such as paediatrics (working with children), contact lenses, sports vision or low vision.

What do I need to do to become an optometrist?

To work as an optometrist, you must be registered with the General Optical Council (GOC). To join the register you will need to:

  • gain a BSc (Hons) degree in optometry
  • complete a one-year pre-registration, salaried and supervised work placement with a registered optometrist
  • pass the GOC final assessment

To do the degree, you will usually need at least five GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and science, plus three A levels (with at least two in science-based subjects). Check with individual course providers as other qualifications may also be accepted.

If you are already working as a dispensing optician, you could retrain in optometry. You would still need to complete the approved optometry degree and pre-registration year.

Related skills

  • Administration
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Discipline
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisation

Academic route

  • Five GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and science
  • Three A levels (with at least two in science-based subjects)

Essential qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) degree in optometry

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

Your work would mainly take place in a treatment room. If you are based at a hospital, you may be involved in some laboratory work. You may also travel to local health centres and community clinics. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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