As mentioned before, optometry is part of the healthcare profession. This discipline focuses on eye care. An optometrist is a healthcare professional capable of diagnosing eye diseases/vision problems, prescribing lenses/spectacles, performing the the treatment (in some cases) and referring patients to an Ophthalmologist/relevant Doctor (if required).
Optometry and Ophthalmology deal with eye care, but Ophthalmologists are eye Doctors (specializing in eye care after completing MBBS)! On the other hand, optometrists are not considered eye Doctors!
An optometrist is capable of diagnosis of ocular diseases. But he/she will have to refer the case to a qualifed doctorstif the the patient needs surgery or advanced treatment. If the problem can be corrected by lenses, spectacles or minor treatment procedures, an optometrist may take care of the patient.
A classic example is patients suffering from refractive errors in their eyes. An optometrist may examine such patients, find the error and dispense lens or spectacles to correct the error. But if the condition is serious and needs clinical intervention, an optometrist will have to refer that case to a relevant Doctor!
In India, optometry courses are available in three main formats–
To work as a qualified Optometrist and achieve good career growth, pursuing Bachelor’s Degree courses will be beneficial. Let us check each course out and examine details about them in the next section-
Bachelor of Optometry (B.OPTOM)
Known as Bachelor of Optometry, Bachelor in Optometry or B.Optom., this is the most popular and valued optometry course available in India.
It is a 4 years long UG Degree course. The academic program is 3 years long. After the academic program has been completed, students have to go through 1-year long internship program. Only after completing the internship program will one be called a qualified Optometrist!
Eligibility criteria: Candidate should be at least 17 years of age at the time when the course starts. Candidate should have passed 10+2 Science stream with Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English subjects. Minimum aggregate marks required is 45% (may vary from one institute to another).
Admission process: Admission is based on marks scored by candidates in board examination EYELET/ relevant entrance tests. Few institutes also follow the direct admission process.