What is an Optometrist?

An Optometrist or Doctor of Optometry is a health professional who is trained to examine, diagnose, treat and prevent diseases and disorders of the eyes and visual system.  A Doctor of Optometry is your first choice when it comes to taking good care of your eyes because they specialize in managing every aspect of your eye health.

What training does a Doctor of Optometry have?

Doctors of Optometry require a minimum of six (6) years of university education, including at least two years of university science and a four-year Optometry program, in order to obtain a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree.
Some of the topics covered in the Optometry program are:
  • Anatomy of the body and eye
  • Community health
  • Contact lenses
  • Genetics
  • Geriatric vision
  • Environmental Vision
  • Light & illumination
  • Low vision
  • Neurophisiology
  • Optics (geometric, physiological and ophthalmic)
  • Pediatric vision
  • Pathology of the body and eye
  • Pharmacology (body and eye)
  • Physiology

What diagnostic and treatment services do Optometrists provide?

Doctors of Optometry perform approximately 80% of all primary vision and eye health examinations in Canada.

A typical vision and eye health exam may include:
  • Internal and external eye health evaluation
  • Visual acuity (eye chart)
  • Pupil reflex testing
  • Focusing, alignment and motility
  • Pressure testing
  • Depth perception testing
  • Colour vision testing
  • and more if necessary

Optometric therapy is constantly growing and evolving with technological advances, but the most common treatments include:
  • Prescribing spectacles and contact lenses
  • Medicinal treatment including eye drops, gels and ointments
  • Minor 'surgical' procedures including the removal of foreign bodies (e.g. metal), inserting plugs into tear ducts for dry eyes and flushing the tear ducts if plugged
  • Correcting or improving binocular vision (how the eyes work together) or focusing disorders such as amblyopia and double vision
  • Low vision therapy
  • Referral to other health care professionals when appropriate, such as family doctors and eye surgeons.

Seeing is believing

Good vision depends on good eye health and overall health.  Regular eye examinations can ensure that your doctor of optometry detects signs of eye disease in its earliest stage.  Optometrists can paint a picture of your overall health, even detecting early warning signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, and tumors.  Prevention is your best health insurance policy, so be sure to visit your optometrist regularly.

Use the Find an Optometrist link in the top left corner to find a doctor of optometry near you.