Optometrists work with specialist equipment to examine patients' eyes. They are trained to recognise symptoms and diagnose and prescribe treatment before referring patients to medical practitioners as necessary. They work in a range of environments, from high street chains to hospitals and community settings.
The optometrist is a primary care practitioner providing a first entry point for visual problems into the healthcare system. Optometrists (formerly known as ophthalmic opticians) employs the use of advanced instrumentation in determining ocular health, visual acuity, depth and colour perception and the ability to focus and co-ordinate the eyes.
Optometrists are responsible for the detection of eye diseases that may require medical attention. Conditions such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis are often first detected by an Optometrist. However, optometrists do not provide secondary or tertiary care as it is not their function to provide treatment of eye diseases or other medical conditions affecting the eye. It is, however, their function to examine for signs of such conditions as part of the eye examination and, if found, to make an appropriate referral to a medical practitioner.
- Examining the eye tissues from a variety of directions, using instruments that shine light into the patient's eye and magnify various features.
- Placing combinations of lenses in front of one or both eyes to check how well the eye focuses.
- Recommending eye exercises and advising solutions to the problems associated with visual impairment.
Travel: not a regular feature during the working day.
Working hours: varies depending on the employer; it can involve evenings and weekend work but not normally shift work.
Location: mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: very possible as many work in private practice.
They work in a range of environments, from high street chains to hospitals and community settings as well as in private practice.
Most newly qualified optometrists enter private practice either as individuals or employees of larger practices. They may specialise in contact lenses, environmental vision or the care of the partially sighted. A small number undertake research for a higher degree.
Entry requirements and training
In order to practice as an Optometrist in Ireland you must be registered with the Opticians Board. eligible to take the clinical examinations (oral and practical) set by the Association of Optometrists sets clinical examinations that allow students to earn the Fellow of the Association of Optometrists, Ireland qualification. This allows registration with the Irish Optician's Board as a fully qualified optometrist. Those registered with the Board are also eligible to register with the General Optical Council and to practice in the UK. Registration with the Association of Optometrists, UK, is also required for practice within the UK.
Specific degree subjects required
B.Sc. (Optometry) (Dublin Institute of Technology)
B.Sc. Hons Optometry (University of Ulster Coleraine)
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.
Specific entry requirements
Students may be required to undergo Garda vetting before being allowed to register.
University of Ulster applicants should note that, as they will be engaged in ‘regulated activity’ involving children or vulnerable adults as part of their course, there is a compulsory, legal requirement to obtain an Enhanced Disclosure from Access NI or other relevant authority.
Republic of Ireland: Clinical training is provided in the Dublin Institute of Technology Optometry Clinic.
UK: Graduates must participate in a full year of work-based training and supervision, called the pre-registration year, before qualifying.
Skills and qualities
- Ability to understand and apply scientific principles and methods.
- Commitment and ability to keep up to date with scientific and technological developments.
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
- Tact, understanding and the ability to inspire confidence in others.
- Ability to quickly identify problems as well as their most effective treatments.
- Good judgment combined with accurate powers of observation.
- Logical, methodical approach to work and capable of meticulous record-keeping.
- Good organisational and administrative skills.
- High degree of accuracy, attention to detail and manual dexterity.