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Career profile: Optometrist

Career profile: OptometristOptometrists look after eye health and can help to spot serious diseases. Read on to find out more.

What is optometry?

Optometry is the care of eyes and vision, identifying injuries and diseases as well as prescribing glasses and contact lenses.

Optometrists also work with other health professionals to help care for patients' general health. For example, conditions like diabetes can affect the eyes, and optometrists can both help to manage the resulting problems and will sometimes identify the diabetes in the first place.

What do optometrists do?

Most of an optometrist's time will be spent working with patients, whether in private practice on the high street or working for the NHS as a customer. This will include examinations, taking case histories from patients, offering advice and writing prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses. As your career advances, you may also spend time managing staff or running a practice.

How do I become an optometrist?

You can study optometry at eight universities in the UK:

  • Anglia University
  • Aston University (Birmingham)
  • Cardiff University
  • City University (London)
  • University of Bradford
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Ulster

This will be a three-year course, or four years in Scotland. You will also have to do a pre-registration year and a final exam before you are fully qualified. Throughout your career, you will have to complete further training to remain qualified.

Getting on to an optometry course will require at least two science A-levels. Depending on the university, one of these may have to be biology.

How much could I earn?

Starting salaries range from around £20,000 to £34,000 a year. You will earn more as a specialist or the head of a practice, and consultants could earn as much as £80,000.

You can expect to earn £14,000 to £18,000 during your pre-registration year.