Optometry is a health care profession involved with testing eyesight, prescribing glasses and corrective lenses. Practioners of this profession are called optometrists. Optometrists deal with eye testing and providing solutions to patients who suffer from conditions like partial sight, hereditary vision defects, squint and weakening of eye muscles, by suggesting the use of proper vision aids such as spectacles or contact lenses. Unlike eye doctors optometrists cannot prescribe medication and perform surgeries to rectify an eye problem.
To become a professional optometrist, it is mandatory to do a Bachelor’s in Optometry (B.Optom.) course. Typically the duration of B.Optom. course is three years. In some colleges the duration is of 4 years with the first 3 years followed by one year clinical internship. The eligibility criterion for admission to the bachelor of Optometry Degree Course is that the candidate should have passed the class XII board exams from a recogised board in India, examination with minimum of 50% marks in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Mathematics and English. Some reputed colleges and institutes also conduct entrance examination for admission to their B.Sc. (Optometry) degree course.
A B.Sc. (Optometry) degree course includes the study of the examination, diagnosis and treatment of eyes, specially related to visual, optical symptoms, refractive errors and their correction, using lenses and other optical aids. It also covers the procedures for eye testing, diagnosis of visual problems, vision training, optometric counseling of patients with partial sight, colour blindness and hereditary vision defects.
Direct admission to the 3rd year of the B. Optom Course is also possible at some colleges. For this, the candidate should have successfully completed 2 year diploma course in Optometry, Ophthalmic Techniques, Refraction, Orthoptics and Ophthalmic Assistance with 40% marks from an Institute recognised by Indian Optometric Association after class XII. or a 3 year diploma course in Ophthalmic Techniques after class X. For candidates who have completed the 3 year diploma after class X .
In addition they should have a work experience of atleast a year from an Ophthalmic clinic or Optical establishment and should not be below 19 years of age. In addition to this, they may have to have to successfully qualify in an entrance test.
India is a hub of many well renouned and popular optomology solleges in India imparting quality education to the candidates including: College of Optometry, Bharti Vidyapeeth Deemed University , Dr. K.R. Adhikary College of Optomery and Paramedical Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, SRM University Tamil Nadu etc.
According to reports, every third blind person in the world is an Indian and millions of others suffer from defective vision. By proper treatment and care 75% of these cases can be prevented.Therefore the is a lot of demand for qualified optometerists. Industry estimates in India predict a requirement of over 2 lakh institutionally-qualified optometrists as opposed to the current availability of a meager 5,000.
There are several opportunities for optometrists. They can works as consultants in hospitals and optical outlets. They can also find employment with companies that make lenses and other eyecare products. Other options include teach in optometry colleges and working in research and development. Many optometrists also take up private practice.
The starting salary varies in the bracket of INR 10 – 15,000/- per month. After some experience optometrists can earn varies between INR 50 – 60,000 more per month. For those who set up their own business, there is no upper limit to the kind of money they can earn.