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Keeping an eye open for better health; A-Z JOBS.


OPTOMETRISTS, also known as ophthalmic opticians, carry out detailed eye examinations for clients to test vision and identify problems, defects, injuries and ill health.

They make a diagnosis, give advice and when necessary, prescribe, fit and supply spectacles and other optical appliances.

They may also discuss the suitability and shape of frames with clients.

As an optometrist, you would use sophisticated instruments to measure vision defects.

You would shine a light on the retina, and make use of more traditional diagnostic tools (like reading charts) to make a diagnosis and decide on the strength of prescription (lens) needed by the client.

Using your knowledge of eye diseases (as well as diabetes and high blood pressure) you would refer clients on to specialists or ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) when necessary.

You could specialise and focus your work in a particular area, such as paediatrics (working with children), contact lenses, sports vision or low vision.

To work as an optometrist in the UK, you must be registered with the General Optical Council (GOC).

To join the register you need:

a BSc (Hons) degree in Optometry and (depending on your degree result) you may also need Part 1 of the GOC's Professional Qualifying Exam.

to complete one year's salaried, supervised work experience at a registered optometrists.

to pass the GOC final assessment.

To get onto a degree in this area, you will usually need at least five GCSEs (A-C) including English, maths and science, plus three A levels in at least two science-based subjects.

If you are already working as a dispensing optician, you could re-train in optometry.

You would still need to complete the approved optometry degree (and pre-registration year), however, the entry requirements may be relaxed.

The College of Optometrists' website has careers information and a list of course providers.

You can practise independently as an optometrist when you have the BSc in Optometry, completed one year of work-based training, passed the GOC final assessment and achieved state registration.

The College and GOC websites have further details.

Once you are working as a qualified and registered optometrist, you will need to keep up to date with advances in this area and renew your registration each year with the GOC in order to continue practising.

Your promotion prospects may increase if you take more advanced qualifications. The College of Optometrists have details of courses available in areas such as contact lens practice, orthoptics, therapeutics and ocular conditions such as diabetes and glaucoma.

Skills and interests for this career include:

the ability to understand and apply scientific principles and methods.

the ability to understand mathematical information.

accuracy and good attention to detail.

a commitment to keeping up to date with scientific advances.

the ability to adapt to new techniques and instruments.

the ability to maintain concentration for repetitive tasks.

a genuine desire to help people.

the ability to put anxious patients at ease.

the ability to explain ideas and instructions to children.

good organisational and administrative skills.

an interest in style and fashion (useful for selling frames).

You would usually work 37.5 hours a week, as a full-time optometrist. This may include some evening shifts. Part-time work is also available.

Your work would mainly take place in a treatment room. If you are based in a hospital, you may be involved in some lab work.

You will find most job opportunities within private practice. With experience you may be able to progress to become a partner in a business or set up a practice on your own.

You could also work in the NHS (in a hospital eye department) or move into areas such as university lecturing, or research work with commercial glass and lens manufacturers.


Health Learning and Skills Advice Line Tel: 08000 150850 General Optical Council, London Tel: 020 7580 3898 College of Optometrists, London Tel: 020 7839 6000 Careers advice from
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 5, 2007
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