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Young boy getting fitted for contacts.

Why Optometry?

Vision is one of our most valuable senses. As an optometrist, you will make a profound and lasting impact on the lives of your patients. Doctors of optometry do more than care for a person’s eyes—they improve a person’s quality of life. The optometry curriculum is a four-year graduate level professional program. Our robust prerequisite requirements allow us to fulfill our goal of starting students learning about exam techniques and seeing patients sooner in their optometric training.

The first two years are divided between vision science and optometry courses, and the preclinical laboratory. As a result of this accelerated preclinical training program, Berkeley Optometry students begin providing highly mentored team based full vision care for their first patients in the Meredith W. Morgan University Eye Center during the second semester of the second year. They spend the entire summer between the second and third year examining an average of 70 patients independently while closely mentored by faculty. Approximately 75% of the third year curriculum consists of providing patient care. The fourth year is spent almost entirely providing patient care and consists of five sessions (rotations) which vary in length from 8 to 12 weeks long. Three external sessions can be located in California and across the United States and two in-house rotations are located on campus and in local community clinics.

The professional curriculum for Berkeley Optometry students includes over 3500 hours of clinical experience, and students see a minimum of 1,500 patient encounters during their four-year professional curriculum.

What Optometrists Do

Optometrists play a vital role in eye care. They are health care professionals licensed by the state to:

  1. Serve as an integral part of the interdisciplinary primary health care team
  2. Perform comprehensive eye exams
  3. Detect and manage eye diseases and disorders of the visual system
  4. Prescribe vision therapy and rehabilitation for conditions affecting the eye, such as eye-movement or eye-tracking problems
  5. Prescribe and provide glasses and contact lenses
  6. And much more…

Job Satisfaction

Our alumni report that helping people see better — whether it is by detecting and successfully treating serious eye diseases or correcting vision with glasses or contacts — is among the most rewarding experience of their lives. The flexibility to work either full-time or part-time allows optometrists to achieve a work-life balance that is rarely matched in other professional careers.

Click the video links below to see a series of videos created by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO).

More Videos

Dr. Miki Lyn Zilnicki Dr. Jeffrey Lewis

Career Opportunities

Optometrists have a variety of career paths. Many choose to join an established practice, or start their own. There are also opportunities to join hospitals, the military, VA medical centers and other health care providers. Some get involved with research—exploring new treatments and cures for eye diseases and other ailments. Others join the faculty at optometry schools; training the next generation of optometrists.

Demand for Optometrists

Demand for optometrists is high and continues to grow. According to the United States Department of Labor, there are currently 40,200 optometry jobs in the U.S., with demand projected to grow 18% over the next eight years.

Earning Power

Optometrists earn competitive salaries. The information in the graph below represents average salaries for three different types of optometry jobs: 1) Private practice owners; 2) ODs working in corporate settings (Costco, Lenscrafters, etc.); and 3) ODs working as employees in a private practice.

Ready to Learn More?

Visit the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s (ASCO) website,, to learn more about the benefits of being an optometrist! You’ll learn what a wonderful career optometry is: how it offers an enviable work/life balance, an excellent salary, the various settings one can practice optometry in, the many ways Doctors of Optometry can give back to their community and positively affect the lives of others

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