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Eye and Vision Care

Optometrist vs. opthamologist career

11/18/2006

Question:

hi! im a highschool student and is really looking into a career in optometry. I dont know whether i should become a n optometrist or an opthomologist. I`m family oriented, i love to learn, i love to help the lives of people but still have a life of my own,and not to sound cheap but i like to make money. Which one would you think would be a good fit? Why? what makes one better than the other? how long would it take to be an optometrist and how long would it take to be an opthomologist? HOW MUCH HARDER IS IT AS AN OPHTOMOLOGIST THAN IT IS FOR AN OPTOMETRIST?

Answer:

The rigors of med school vs. optometry school are about the same. Both are high volume programs. ODs attend 4-year professional school after college and are eligible for licensure to practice. EyeMDs go to 4-year med school after college and 3 years as a resident to learn how to perform surgery. Most spend another 1-2 years in fellowship to specialize in certain area of eye surgery - all learn cataract surgery. That's 8 years vs. 11-12 years.

The rigor isn't the most important question; the lifestyle and connection to patients is the bigger reason that some choose one over the other. I don't want to perform surgery, hence I didn't want to be an EyeMD. I have more leasure time as an OD without being oncall for emergencies. Both professions make a good living. Of course, surgeons earn more. It tends to cost more to be trained.

You should observe as many ODs and EyeMDs as you can to decide which mode of practice suits your personality and interests. It comes down to personal preference over everything else.

You should look at the Outlook on Professions Handbook. There is good information on the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry website at opted.org. There's also a career guide.

You can find information on the American Association of Ophthalmology website about its career options at http://www.aao.org/careers/envision/index.cfm.

Best wishes in your quest.

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Response by:

Cynthia Gale Heard, OD Cynthia Gale Heard, OD
Formerly
Assistant Professor, Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University