Another doc here. Just wanted to piggy back off of what others have said. Many students I graduated with years ago have similar varying salaries, and that’s the benefit (and curse) of optometry.
A guy I went to school with works in North Carolina in a suburban area. He owns the practice and makes well over $200k. He won’t go into details, but his whole mantra is that he will not sacrifice the quality of his education for a cheaper exam cost. He also only sells designer frames, and he bills a lot of medical visits (as we all should).
I also know several docs who work in federally-qualified healthcare centers. They are both women. One works part time (~3 days a week) and makes $60k. She has two kids, and she likes the flexibility. The other works full-time and makes ~$100k. Again, these are just docs I was close with at graduation.
Lastly, compensation rarely includes additional benefits. Is CE included? Licensing? Malpractice? Vacation? Hidden costs of private practice ownership? Productivity-based? Hourly-based?
To be honest, I don’t know of any full-time OD making less than $100k unless they’re working academic, and even then, all non-profit workers can get loan forgiveness. Otherwise, I’d argue you’re being underpaid.
Hope that helps!