The world of eyes and vision is a truly amazing one - and those working within it enjoy interesting and rewarding careers.
There are all sorts of opportunities and roles within optometry - you could be working with the general public in a high street optometrists; carrying out eye examinations, treating eye conditions in a hospital or clinic or carrying out essential research in the university or a laboratory. You could also be involved in developing cutting-edge contact lenses for all kinds of eye conditions, or helping people find the right glasses to make sure that they are living life to the full - and looking good! If you have the right skills, you could work all over the world and one day you could be running your own business or your department.
Optometrists are healthcare professionals who specialise in the eye - one of the body's most complex organs. Optometry is about helping people to see as clearly as possible - using your skills and knowledge to make a real difference to people's lives every day.
A newly qualified optometrist will earn around £25,000 although this will vary from region to region. There are exciting opportunities for those working in high street optometrists who may wish to manage a branch of a national chain, or even own their own practice. There are excellent career paths for those working in clinical roles or in research in the public or private sector. You may decide that you want to specialise in a certain area such as contact lens practice or move into the academic world, perhaps as a tutor or lecturer.
To enjoy and be successful in any career, you’ll need a mix of specific technical and professional knowledge and skills, certain personality traits and attitudes and to understand your personal likes and dislikes.
You'll need to understand how scientific theory and methods can be applied in practice - so maths and science are probably your favourite subjects at school - and you are expecting good grades in these in your GCSEs/Intermediate exams and A levels/Highers or Welsh or International Baccalaureate
You'll also need to enjoy learning, as there are always new ideas, regulations and research findings arising in the world of optometry. All registered optometrists are required to keep their knowledge and skills up to date by obtaining a set number of CET (continuing education and training) points each year by reading papers, interacting with others and attending workshops and presentations.
Personality-wise, you are probably someone who pays attention to accuracy and to detail and is well organised and can keep accurate, up-to-date records. You will also enjoy meeting new people of all ages and from all backgrounds, and are a good communicator who can put people at their ease and really listen to what they are saying (and not saying!)
You must successfully complete a degree in Optometry followed by a period of supervised training in the workplace, with a number of assessment and a final practical examination, in order to become a registered optometrist.
There are nine universities across the UK offering BScs in Optometry and they receive around eight applications for every place available. They are:
Entry requirements vary from institution to institution but you will usually need to gain high grades (typically As) in three A levels or in your Highers or Baccalaureate, with at least two science subjects. Check with the universities for their exact requirements.
Most universities hold open days, usually in the spring, where you can find out more about the course and student life. Once again, check the websites for the latest information.
You can also download our helpful careers leaflet: Careers in optometry - Look to the future