Optometry jobs essentially involve prescribing and fitting people with corrective lenses. An optometrist is a medical professional trained to care for the health of the eyes, and to prescribe corrective lenses for people with vision problems. In addition the optometrists, other optometry jobs include opticians, orthoptists, and ocularists. Optometrists have four-year post baccalaureate degrees in optometry. Opticians dispense glasses and contact lenses, orthoptists specialize in the diagnosis of ocular motility problems, and ocularists specialize in the fabrication and fitting of ocular prosthetics.
The field of ophthalmology is related to optometry, but differs from optometry in that ophthalmologists specialize in the surgical treatment of eyes. Optometry jobs do not involve surgery. Orthoptists may assist opthalmolgists with surgery, so this job could be considered either an optometry or an ophthalmology job.
Optometrists provide overall eye care. They diagnose common eye diseases and disorders, as well as perform refractive vision correction, or, in other words, prescribe corrective lenses for vision problems. They are licensed to prescribe drugs for treating diseases of the eye. Optometrists also write prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses, but they do not usually help patients choose glasses; this is the role of an optician.
Opticians specialize in the design, fitting, and dispensing of glasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and ocular prosthetics. An optician starts with a prescription for corrective lenses written by an optometrist, and helps the patient choose glasses or contact lenses. They often take fashion as well as function into account when consulting with patients on designing a corrective lens to meet the patient's needs. Opticians may work in a variety of settings, but they usually work in joint practice with an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Some eye problems involve the muscles and nerves around the eye, rather than the eye itself. An orthoptist is a professional that diagnoses these problems, and recommends treatment for them. The most common conditions seen by orthoptists are ambylopia, commonly called lazy eye, and strabismus, or being cross-eyed. Treatment often involves exercising the eye muscles or temporarily covering one eye with a patch so that the other eye can be strengthened.
The last of the optometry jobs the ocularist. Ocularists specialize in the fabrication and fitting of ocular prostheses for people who have lost an eye due to illness or injury. Ocularists may work with optometrists or ophthalmologists, and gain their training in a variety of ways. They may come from various fields including optometry, dentistry, nursing, or medicine.