Starting Early - Information for High School Students

An optometrist is an eye doctor who examines and treats diseases and disorders of the eye and associated structures.  For most patients, this means diagnosing vision problems and prescribing glasses or contacts. But optometry is much more than just glasses and contact lenses. It is an optometrist's job to ensure that each patient's eyes are healthy and function with vision that is effortless and productive. That’s a tall order!

Why Should I be Interested in Optometry?

Have you ever thought about how we see things? Light bounces off of the world around us, enters our eyes through tiny pupils, and is somehow processed into an image that our brain comprehends?  Sounds crazy, but it works. 

Why Should I be Interested in Optometry photo 1   If a child is having trouble in school, trouble with learning, an exam by an optometrist can determine what is causing the problem.  It may be a problem where the eyes are not focusing or it may be a problem where the eyes are not working together as a “team” with jerky eye movements or one eye crosses.  To be a successful student, efficient, effortless vision is required for reading and test-taking.  Either eyeglasses or vision therapy may be required—the optometrist may prescribe both.

Optometrists also look out for certain diseases that affect the eyes and sometimes the whole body.  The common eye diseases and conditions seen are macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachments, and bacterial and viral infections.  More rarely but routinely, they might find serious, life-threatening conditions such as retinal tumors and brain tumors.  All of these conditions, if left undiagnosed and untreated, could lead to blindness or worse.

Warning signs of a disease can be seen in the eyes before it appears anywhere else in the body. For example, in diabetes that is not well-controlled, elevated blood sugar levels can cause bleeding in the eye that would eventually lead to vision problems.

  Why Should I be Interested in Optometry photo 2

If a patient has had a stroke, very specific areas in their vision are affected.  An optometrist can analyze a visual field test, see which area of the patient's vision was affected, and know exactly which lobe of the brain was damaged by the stroke. Optometrists routinely provide this type of health care to their patients. They function in many areas of expertise. If you find any of this information fascinating and you find yourself wanting to learn more, than maybe optometry is the right career for you!

Optometry Quick Facts

  • Optometry has the second highest small business success rate and is the third largest independent healthcare profession.  This means you could have your own business and work for yourself, be your own boss.
  • According to the American Optometric Association, average annual income from the primary practice of optometry was $132,052 in 2011.
  • After just four years of professional school for Doctor of Optometry, you will be eligible for licensure and practice.
  • Optometry is a highly desirable career:  With the high-pay, low-stress, great patient success rate, and the aging population who are in need of eye care, how can you resist?

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I apply to MBKU right after high school?
    • No. You will need to obtain an undergraduate degree first (BA or BS) as well as complete prerequisite coursework.
  2. What major should I choose in college if I want to go into Optometry?
    • There is no “perfect major” for Optometry. Because each school’s curriculum varies, the best thing to do is take the list of prerequisite coursework to the college you plan on attending and speak with an Academic Advisor. They will be able to help you figure out what the best major is for you to hit your goals! Click here for a list of the prerequisite courses.

“OK, I'm Interested in Optometry. What Now?"

Knowing where to begin is the hardest part of starting something new; we’re here to help!  To begin the process of discovery, your main goal should be to learn as much as possible about optometry, and especially, to make sure optometry is right for you.

Things you can do:

  • Shadow a local optometrist and ask questions!  Ask them for recommendations or to help you set up other shadowing opportunities with their colleagues.  Tip: be sure to write down your experiences and what you learned - you will enter this data when you apply a few years down the road.
  • Attend our Spring Admissions Open House to learn more about the profession and talk to current students. Parents and friends are welcome to come with you!
  • Visit the Optometry Admissions blog to learn more about the admissions and application process and about our school.
  • Get your parents involved with your decision.  Ask them to help you research the profession. 
  • It’s never too early to start preparing to be a competitive applicant. Click here for some tips!
  • Talk to your high school counselor and ask for recommendations about making your high school course work tailored to your goal.  This involves taking science and math coursework and considering where you will attend college as a pre-med major (which is the same as being a pre-optometry major).
  • For general information about optometry or our program, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
  • If you would like more individualized help or advising, make an appointment with Eryn Kraning, Assistant Director of Admissions. (Parents are welcome!)   Click here to learn more about how to connect with MBKU’s admissions advisors.