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Optometry School Admissions Requirements


Optometrists are the major providers of primary vision care in the United States. They examine the eyes and vision system, diagnose vision problems, prescribe and provide treatment. Treatments include prescription glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy, aids for low vision, and, in an increasing number of states (well over half at this writing), therapeutic drugs for specific diseases. As members of the eye health care team, optometrists (O.D.s) work with ophthalmologists (D.D.s or D.O.s), who are physicians specializing in diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and defects, including surgery. They also work with opticians, who fit, supply and adjust eyewear according to prescriptions written by optometrists or ophthalmologists.

As the primary eye care provider, it is the optometrist who often is the first to detect symptoms of eye disease, including glaucoma and cataracts, as well as systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and arteriosclerosis. The doctor of optometry also deals with vision problems which can be remedied through corrective refraction, either in the form of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Vision therapy for children helps them overcome learning problems due to vision deficiencies, and provides them with the perception skills necessary for effective reading and studying. Another emerging area of optometric care is low vision rehabilitation, which provides sophisticated optical devices for individuals who formerly may have been classified as legally blind. The new field of sports vision goes beyond vision screening, to evaluate and teach vision skills which sharpen individuals� athletic performance. Optometrists are involved also in determining safe vision standards in industry, and in determining who may safely drive an automobile.

There are 17 schools of optometry in the US and two in Canada. A total of 20,000 optometrists are in practice. Optometry school is a four year program. The curriculum consists of general anatomy, optics, theoretical optometry, pathology, practical optometry, neurology, pharmacology, physics and mathematics. Once you obtain your degree, fields to choose from include associate practice, military practice, teaching, research, public health, administration, working with a hospital, clinical team, environmental or industrial vision service or private practice.

Test Requirements

All schools and colleges of optometry require the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). This test is offered in the Fall and Spring of each year and must be taken no later than the Fall of the year preceding the intended date of registration in a school of optometry. Students are advised to take the test immediately after completion of the required basic courses in chemistry, biology, and physics. You should be aware that if you take the test more than one time, the Berkeley School of Optometry uses the highest total testing for ranking purposes. The OAT tests the following: reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, biology, chemistry (both organic and general) and physics. The test announcement describes the test, application procedures, and test dates in more detail.

Schools of Optometry

The American Optometric Association produces a brochure which describes individual school programs, class sizes, and profiles of students. This brochure, �Optometry: A Career with Vision� can be obtained at no cost by writing to:

American Optometric Association

Career Guidance Coordinator

243 N. Lindbergh Boulevard

St. Louis, MO 63141 (314)991-4100

There is no single application for optometry schools. You should write to the individual schools for applications and deadlines. Applications are usually available in September and are due in December or January. Following is a listing of all of the accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the United States.University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry, University Station, Birmingham, AL 35294 (205)934-6150

University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry, 381 Minor Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720 (510)642-9537

Ferris State University, College of Optometry, Big Rapids, MI 49307 (616)592-2100

University of Houston, College of Optometry, 4800 Calhoun, Houston, TX 77204-6052

Illinois College of Optometry, 3241 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL 60616 (312)225-1700 or (800)397-2424

Indiana University, School of Optometry, 800 E. Atwater Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405 (812)855-1917

Inter American University of Puerto Rico, School of Optometry, P.O. Box 1293, San Juan, PR 00919 (809)754-6690

University of Missouri/St. Louis School of Optometry, 8001 Natural Bridge Rd, St. Louis, MO 63121 (314)553-5606

New England College of Optometry, 424 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02115 (617)266-2030

Northeastern State University, College of Optometry, Tahlequah, OK 74464 (918)456-5511 x4000

Ohio State University College of Optometry, 338 W. Tenth Ave., Columbus, OH 43210-1240 (614)292-3246

Pacific University, College of Optometry, 2043 College Way, Forest Grove, OR 97116 (503)359-2218 or (800)635-0561

Pennsylvania College of Optometry, 1200 W. Godfrey Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19141 (215)276-6262 or (800)824-6262

Southeastern University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry, 1750 NE 168th St., No. Miami Beach, FL 33162-3097 (305)949-4000

Southern California College of Optometry, 2575 Yorba Linda Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92631-1699 (714)449-7444 or (800)238-0180

Southern College of Optometry, 1245 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38104 (901)722-3225 or (800)238-0180

State University of New York (SUNY) State College of Optometry, 100 E. 24th St., New York, NY 10010 (212)420-5100

Course Requirements for Admission

Most optometry schools require math, chemistry (Berkeley also requires organic chemistry), biology, microbiology, physics and English. Recommended courses include psychology, history, sociology and statistics. The Berkeley School of Optometry also requires courses in Human Anatomy and Human Physiology. Some of these courses may be fulfilled by summer session courses at UC Berkeley immediately prior to matriculation in the School of Optometry. For more specific requirements you should contact the individual schools or see the Admissions Requirements Guide available in the Health Professions Library. While few schools of optometry actually require a bachelors degree, with increasing competition, many students choose to complete their program here in a specific academic major.


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