What Is a Therapeutic Optometrist? - Salary & Definition

Jan 02, 2019

Therapeutic optometrists fulfill additional training and licensing requirements to qualify for their role. The general duties they share with all optometrists are explored here, as well as the additional duties they perform as a therapeutic optometrist.

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Career Definition of a Therapeutic Optometrist

A therapeutic optometrist is an optometrist who has additional responsibilities. As an optometrist they will see patients and conduct tests to identify any medical issues that their patient has that are affecting their vision. They are qualified to provide a diagnosis for a range of issues, including colorblindness and glaucoma. Once they have determined which issues are affecting their patient they will prescribe treatment. This may involve prescribing glasses or it may involve a surgical procedure. When their patients require eye surgery they are also responsible for examining them before and after the surgery.

Therapeutic optometrists may also prescribe medication to their patients. They may perform additional tasks such as removing items that are in a person's eye. They are also qualified to diagnose and treat patients with eye diseases. They may also pursue a license that enables them to treat patients with glaucoma. Other duties that all optometrists perform include teaching their patients about eye care. All optometrists are also qualified to identify other potential health issues that may affect their patients, such as diabetes. In addition to their medical duties optometrists may also be responsible for hiring and overseeing staff and promoting their services. Their specific responsibilities may vary if they have their own practice or are part of a medical team in a doctor's office or store setting.

Educational Requirements Doctoral degree, license
Job Skills Compassion, interpersonal skills, communication skills, decision-making skills, analytical skills, attention to detail, fine motor skills
Mean Salary (2017)* $80,956
Job Outlook (2016-2026)** 17% (optometrists)

Sources: *Glassdoor; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Optometrists are highly trained medical professionals. They typically earn an undergraduate degree in a field such as biology. They must then earn a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree, which involves four additional years of study. A one-year residency typically follows completion of the O.D. degree program, and optometrists must also be licensed. In order to work as a therapeutic optometrist it is necessary to fulfill therapeutic optometrist licensing requirements, which can involve completing an internship.

Required Skills

Therapeutic optometrists must pay attention to details to ensure they perform a thorough exam on their patients and correctly diagnose them. They need to be capable of making decisions to determine the most effective treatment for their patients. They need excellent fine motor skills to be able to remove objects from their patients' eyes when necessary or perform minor surgery. They also need to have strong interpersonal skills and effective communication skills to interact with clients and counsel them about the health of their eyes and their treatment options.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) job outlook for optometrists is strong. From 2016 to 2026 the BLS expects optometrists to see a 17% job growth rate. This is more than double the national average job growth rate for all occupations, which is expected to be 7% during that time period. Glassdoor indicates that therapeutic optometrists earned an annual average income of $80,956 as of 2017.

Related Careers

Those interested in a career as a therapeutic optometrist may be interested in gaining related experience by working as an iridologist or they may also want to consider other areas of healthcare that involve treating hearing or speech and swallowing issues. The links listed here lead to articles about other careers that aspiring therapeutic optometrists may also want to consider.

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