Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. Doctors of optometry, or optometrists, prescribe medications, vision therapy, eyeglasses, and contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures. Fast-growing fields in optometry include vision therapy for children, which helps them overcome learning problems due to vision deficiencies, and low vision rehabilitation, which provides advanced devices for individuals who are formerly classified as legally blind. Over three quarters of practicing optometrists in the U.S. are private practitioners. However, they are also found in government service, teaching, and research.

General Information

Doctors of optometry receive four years of specialized professional education and clinical training.  Students spend the majority of the first two years of optometry school in lecture and the laboratory.  They have a heavily scheduled block of courses in the basic health and visual sciences. Students spend the last two years studying diagnostic and treatment techniques in clinical settings. 

There are only nineteen accredited schools of optometry in the U.S.  A list of these schools can be found at www.opted.org.  Because optometric training involves optics and lens design, optometry schools emphasize preparation in mathematics.  Most optometry schools also require at least one course in psychology.

Application Process

The OptomCAS is the centralized application service for students applying to optometry school.  Applicants submit a single application to OptomCAS, which then sends a standard applicant packet to each of the optometry schools to which you are applying.  All nineteen optometry schools in the U.S. participate in OptomCAS. 

Optometry schools often require a letter of evaluation from a pre-health advisory committee, rather than several individual letters.  Each applicant who seeks a committee letter of evaluation will be interviewed by several members of the Stonehill Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee, who will then condense the comments of science faculty, non-science faculty, and employers, which you will have previously gathered, into a single letter of evaluation to be submitted to optometry schools.

If an optometry school is seriously considering you for admission, they will most likely request a personal interview. 

Entrance Exam

The Optometry Admission Test, or OAT, is required for admission to all U.S. schools of optometry.  The OAT is a computerized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. 

The OAT is a multiple choice examination that is approximately four hours long and consists of the following four examinations, which are listed in the order that they are administered:

  • Survey of the natural sciences.  This section consists of 100 multiple choice questions – 40 biology, 30 general chemistry, and 30 organic chemistry – to be completed in 90 minutes.
  • Reading comprehension.  This section includes three passages typical of the level of material encountered in the first year of optometry school.  It consists of 40 multiple choice questions to be completed in 50 minutes.
  • Physics.  The content is limited to that encountered in Physics I and II courses at Stonehill.  It consists of 40 multiple choice questions to be completed in 50 minutes.
  • Quantitative reasoning.  These are questions that test mathematical ability.  It consists of 40 multiple choice questions to be completed in 50 minutes.
Subjects Covered Type of Exam Exam Length When Given Where Taken Contact Info to Register
Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics, Quantitative Reasoning Computer Multiple Choice 4 hr 40 min Varies by appointment Prometric Test Centers throughout the US Apply to take the OAT; email instructions will follow application approval
Test Prep Cost of Exam Obtaining Scores Reporting Scores Score Record Notes
www.opted.org & Prometric Test Drive at www.prometric.com & www.kaptest.com $330.00 Financial assistance available for 50% discount Unofficial report given upon completion; official scores 3-4 weeks later Registration fee includes reports up to 5 schools listed at the time of the exam; $34.00 per additional report later The four most recent attempts are reported as well as the total number of attempts Obtain an OATPIN at www.opted.org

Suggested Coursework

The following is a list of undergraduate courses that typically satisfy the prerequisites for optometry programs:

  • Chemistry with lab (1 year)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (1 semester)
  • Biology with lab (1 year)
  • Microbiology with lab (1 semester)
  • Physics with lab (1 year)
  • Calculus (1 year)
  • Psychology (1 semester)
  • English (1 year)


Association of School and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)

American Optometric Association (AOA)

2014 OAT Program Guide