Doctors of Optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed. They also identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye. Some optometrists spend much of their time providing specialized care, particularly if they are working in a group practice with other optometrists or physicians. For example, some optometrists mostly treat patients with only partial sight, a condition known as low vision. Others may focus on treating infants and children.
Optometrists typically do the following:
Perform vision tests and analyze results
Diagnose sight problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, and eye diseases, such as glaucoma
Prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other visual aids, and if state law permits, medications
Perform minor surgical procedures to correct or treat visual or eye health issues
Provide treatments such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation
Provide pre- and postoperative care to patients undergoing eye surgery—for example, examining a patient’s eyes the day after surgery
Evaluate patients for the presence of other diseases and conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, and refer patients to other healthcare providers as needed
Promote eye and general health by counseling patients
Decision-making skills: Optometrists must be able to evaluate the results of a variety of diagnostic tests and decide on the best course of treatment for a patient.
Detail oriented: Optometrists must ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment and medications and that prescriptions are accurate. They must also monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.
Interpersonal skills: Because they spend much of their time examining patients, optometrists must be able to help their patients feel at ease. Optometrists also must be able to communicate well with other healthcare professionals.
Speaking skills: Optometrists must be able to clearly explain eye care instructions to their patients, as well as answer patients’ questions.
Learn more about Optometry:
The chart below is a list of common optometry school prerequisites and the Emory course equivalents. The course prerequisites vary across programs. This list does not include all courses that may be required by optometry schools. Additionally, schools have differing policies for accepting AP/IB credits to fulfill prerequisites. Students are responsible for verifying the prerequisite coursework and AP/IB policies of the schools to which they plan to apply.
This list was last updated in July 2017. Prerequisite chart is not an all-inclusive list.
*If you use AP credit for Biol 141, you must still take the Biol 141 Lab.
- Many Optometry programs require only 1 semester of Organic Chemistry
- Starting in Fall 2018, the traditional Organic Chemistry sequence (CHEM 221 and 222) will no longer be offered at Emory. CHEM 203 and CHEM 204 will be the new sequence offered.
- It is recommended that students take both CHEM 203 and 204 in order to cover the all the topics required to fulfill an Organic Chemistry pre-req.
- ++You may be permitted to take a semester Organic Chemistry through the ARCHE program (starting Fall 2018). See below.
+ Human Anatomy and Physiology:
- The traditional Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab course sequence is not offered in the College. Students may be permitted to take this sequence in the Emory School of Nursing (NRSG 201 and 202 with labs), with permission from the SON (availability is not guaranteed).
- The most closely-related courses offered in the College are Biol 205 (Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy with lab) and Biol 336 (Human Physiology, no lab). For schools that require Human Anatomy and/or Human Physiology with lab, these courses would not fulfill the prerequisite.
- Visit the ASCO program directory to view individual school websites to determine the exact requirements for your chosen schools.
- ++You may be permitted to take the Human Anatomy and Physiology sequence with lab through the ARCHE program. See below.
++If one of the prerequisite courses you need to take is not offered in the College, you may be eligible to take the course through the ARCHE program: http://registrar.emory.edu/registration/cross-registration/emory-students.html.
Please contact your pre-health advisor if:
- You have questions about using your AP/IB credit
- You have questions about the Anatomy and Physiology or the Organic Chemistry prerequisites
- You transferred to Emory and have questions about prerequisite coursework taken at your previous institution.
- You have questions about taking a course through the ARCHE program
Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
Students are required to the read the OAT Guide before submitting an application to test.
Length: 4 hours and 50 minutes
Sections: Survey of the Survey of the Natural Sciences, Physics, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning
Cost: The registration fee is $450 which includes the exam and scores sent to the optometry schools listed during registration (up to 5). Sending scores to additional schools after the initial OAT application costs $36 each. Requests for Partial Fee Waivers can be made starting on January 1 each year and applicants should apply ASAP.
Scores: Scores range from 200-400.
OAT Prep Resources: There are a variety of OAT prep resources, each differing in both cost and teaching style. The PHMO does not endorse any specific test prep resource, but we encourage you to explore each of the different options to determine which will best fit your needs.
- ADA - OAT Prep (Free/Low Cost)
- Coursesaver (Low Cost)
- Orgo Man - OAT Destroyer
- Crack the OAT (Low Cost)
- Kaplan (Scholarships Available)
The Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, and Quantiative Reasoning sections on the OAT and DAT are very similar. Students may utilize DAT resources for these sections to prepare. See the "Dentistry" tab for more information on DAT prep resources.
The PHMO does not endorse any specfic preparation program or company.
Number of schools: Students typically apply to between 5-8 optometry schools.
Factors to consider:
Location I: Students have the best chance of admission at the public optometry school(s) in their state of residency. Outside of your in-state school(s), consider private schools and other state public schools that accept a reasonable number of out-of-state residents.
Location II: Urban vs. rural setting, proximity to family, recreational opportunities, cost of living, etc.
Mission Statements: You should look for schools with mission statements that fit with your own goals.
Curriculum: Seek out information about the curriculum and consider how it fits with your learning style.
Cost: Consider tuition and type of financial aid available
Additional resources for school selection:
Attend the PHMO School Selection panel during the Spring semester.
*Not affiliated with ASCO. Always double check any information with OptomCAS, ASCO, or with individual schools.
Applications for OptomCAS are reviewed on a rolling basis. We recommend applying as early in the cycle as possible. For additional information on Centralized Application Services and Personal Statements, see the "Apply" section of the PHMO website.
Centralized Application Service: OptomCAS - Optometry Centralized Application Service
Number of Participating Schools: All 23 optometry programs in the U.S. participate in OptomCAS
Cost: $165 which includes one optometry program designation. Each additional school is $65.
Fee Assistance? No fee waivers for OptomCAS are available at this time.
Personal Statement Prompt: OptomCAS essay prompts may be different based on the individual program. However, the main essay prompt for most optometry programs is: "Please describe what inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist, including your preparation for training in this profession, your aptitude and motivation, the basis for your interest in optometry, and your future career goals." - 4,500 character limit
Application Timing: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. The OptomCAS cycle opens late June.
Almost all optometry schools requires a secondary, or supplemental, application. Some schools will require you to submit a supplemental application and fee directly to the institution, while others may give you access to the secondary material immediately after you designate them in OptomCAS. Secondary applications for optometry school often involve one or several essay questions and a fee. The PHMO recommends a two-week turn around on secodary applications from the time you receive them. You should research the requirements of each individual school to determine if they require a supplemental application and if there will be any additional application fees.
Optometry schools typically require between 3-4 recommendation letters. The PHMO recommends at least one of your letters be from a science faculty member and one be from a PI or research supervisor (if you participated in research). The other letters should be made up of professional references who can write compellingly about your personal qualities that will contribute to a successful career in optometry. Some optometry programs may require a letter from an optometrist. Students should check each school's requirements to ensure you have the required letters. See the OptomCAS Programs Letter Requirements page for individual program requirements.
If you are applying to optometry school and you are a current Emory student or an alumni who graduated from Emory within the last two years, you may be eligible to apply for a Composite Letter. Composite Letters are strongly recommended, although not required, for optometry schools.
After submitting the primary application and secondary applications for individual schools, students may receive interview offers any time in the academic year preceding matriculation. The interview is one of the most important elements in the healthcare professions application process. When a school invites you to an interview, they are indicating an interest in selecting you for their school based on your application. The interview gives both of you the opportunity to exchange information to determine if you are a good “fit” for each other.
Optometry schools require personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and ability to overcome challenges. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in optometry and the experiences that have motivated you.
What to Expect at an Optometry School Interview:
Optometry school interviews are typically conducted on campus, which means you should be prepared to travel during interview season. Part of your preparation for the application process should be saving money for flights and hotel stays. Interviews may involve a tour of the school, information sessions, lunch with a current student, and the interview itself.
How to Prepare:
Your interview prep should be different basd on the type of interview the school employs. In general, you should always:
Review your application materials (including activites log, personal statement, and essays) and be prepared to discuss them in detail.
Brush up on current events in healthcare and in your profession specifically.
Research the school. Do an in-depth review of the school's website and any additional materials you have. Remember, the interview is your chance to show them why you are a good fit for that particular program.