Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers and represent the front line of vision health. The eye health and good vision of the public are the prime responsibilities of Canada’s Doctors of Optometry, who:
- specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of disease and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures
- diagnose ocular manifestations of systemic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and complications of the aging process such as cataracts and macular degeneration
- prescribe medication to treat certain eye diseases
- prescribe and fit eye glasses and contact lenses as well as safety eyewear and subnormal vision devises
- provide vision therapy and low-vision rehabilitation
- work in conjunction with other health care providers to provide integrated, quality care for patients
- educate patients about vision health and lifestyle choices for protecting and enhancing good vision and health
- conduct research and promote advancement in the visual sciences
ODs practice in a range of settings: most work in private practice, others work in clinics, hospitals, community health centres, corporate optometry, research, teaching and administration.
Optometry is a regulated profession. A Doctor of Optometry completes a Bachelor of Science degree or higher, followed by a four year Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited university’s school of optometry. Each year, approximately 130 new ODs graduate from the two Canadian schools of optometry (University of Waterloo and Université de Montréal). In addition, there are Canadian graduates from US schools of optometry who return to Canada to practice and internationally trained ODs.
Upon completion of the optometry degree, the graduate is required to satisfy provincial licensing requirements in the province or territory in which they intend to practice. This process includes a national examination administered by the Canadian Examiners in Optometry (CEO). Licensure by the provincial or territorial governing body is required. These requirements ensure the public receives the highest standards of optometric care.
Becoming an Optometrist
Doctors of optometry require seven to eight years of post-secondary education to obtain their professional designation, Doctor of Optometry (OD). Educational requirements typically include:
- A minimum of three years of undergraduate education*, preferably in the sciences; * In Québec two years of CEGEP is accepted at the undergraduate level.
- A four or five year university program in optometry, accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education;
- An increasing number of optometrists choose to do an additional year of residency training upon completion of their Doctor of Optometry degree;
- Upon completion of the course in optometry, the graduate is required to satisfy provincial board requirements in the province or territory in which they intend to practice.
- This process also includes a national examination administered by the Canadian Examiners in Optometry. Licensure by the provincial or territorial governing body is required. These requirements ensure the public receives the highest standards of optometric care.
There are two schools of optometry located in Canada and 20 in the United States that are accredited and recognized in Canada. (See website below for schools located in the United States)