Optometry Replaced by Technology?

Discussion in 'Optometry' started by damusiel, Mar 30, 2017.

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  1. damusiel

    damusiel Probationary Status

    Mar 19, 2017

    I am currently in high school and interested in becoming a optometrist. What is the future of optometry and will it be replaced by high tech technology and robots that will do it for us?

    What are the pros and cons and should i become a optometrist?
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  3. treytrey


    Mar 10, 2017
    The future of optometry isn't doomed because of technology, it's doomed because of humans, in particular, by the number of graduates finishing optometry school more and more.

    There is a huge oversaturation problem now in the states and in Canada, it's going to dramatically worsen within 5-10 years.

    -relatively easy clean job
    -decent pay (for now)

    -repetitive job, very, very repetitive
    -huge oversupply of optometrists RIGHT NOW, even more to come (many news schools have opened up, not enough optometrists are retiring, every study has shown that there is already a sizable oversupply of optometrists that is only going to significantly worsen within 5-10 years)
    -ongoing commercialization
    -associations with no backbone who don't care one bit about optometrists or optometry
    -same amount of schooling as dental/medicine/pharmacy but only a fraction of the pay that those fields get (i.e. optometrists get 70-90k usually stringing together several part time jobs to fill up a full schedule, no benefits/401k/health/dental/paid vacation/etc. - pharmacists for example get 100-120k with great benefits and time off, associate dentists who have newly graduated easily make 100k+ working only 3-4 days a week and their salary skyrockets to 150-200k whereas the most an optometrist can ever expect is 100-130k).
    -you'll always be left with the feeling of "just" being an optometrist, once you're an optometrist, you're limited to optometry. If you're a pharmacist you can go into industry/corporate/consulting, MD's have a huge variety of things they can do, optometrists will always be the eye exam guy
    -not seen as real doctors by the majority of healthcare professions and public
    -huge oversupply makes it hard to find meaningful jobs
  4. Stirling


    Dec 22, 2016
    treytrey is a known troll on this forum, so take what he has to say with a grain of salt.

    One of the optometrists I shadowed was about to enter optometry school when LASIK came out. He thought it would mean the end of the optometric profession, but it has actually helped out more than anything. LASIK patients go to ODs for yearly post-op care.

    While an MIT student could program a robot to perform an exam, a robot will NOT be able to give people that doctor-patient experience that ODs have come to love about the profession. Patients may also not be trusting with robots.

    Here is a link to the latest data on OD salaries. It averages between 103k -129k. Optometrist Salaries by education, experience, location and more - Salary.com Finding a job with that pay shouldn't be hard, even just out of OD school.

    One thing to consider is that big cities may be saturated with optometrists, but there are many opportunities outside of them. There's a member of this forum that has had an opening in his office offering +$100k and benefits but hasn't been able to fill it. His office is in Connecticut.

    Baby boomers are retiring, so not only do we have an aging population and all the vision issues associated with that, but we should see a proportionate amount of ODs retire soon as well (although the profession is not physically demanding so it may be less).

    It can feel like each exam is the same, and every day may feel repetitive. It really depends on how you interact with each patient. When I was shadowing, there were usually two or three patients a day that had a unique problem or case that required special attention, so that can break up the monotony.

    There are pros and cons to each profession. Don't let one person's bad experience cloud your judgement. Go shadow an optometrist or two and see for yourself. Pharmacists are stuck doing pharmacy things, and so are dentists (unless one teaches). Optometry is kinda the same, depending on what you want to specialize in. You can also teach or do research with a Masters in Vision Science. Don't compare the cons of one profession to the pros of another.

    No matter what profession you end up choosing, only YOU can determine what you get out of it. If you're capable and work hard enough at it, you can be exceptional in your field.

    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
    Opticalfuture likes this.
  5. treytrey


    Mar 10, 2017
    The fact that you use salary.com is hilarious. Here's something a bit more accurate. Optometrists and if you'd like data for Canada here you go.

    Even better, go ahead and find listings in any city of your choosing, go ahead and find out what the starting salaries are. The figures on salary.com are inflated because they take into account private practise holders who've been in the business for 20-30+ years. To any job, you'll find that 10+ optometrists have already applied to it because there aren't enough jobs to go around. IT IS A FACT THAT GRADUATES FROM THE PAST 4-5 YEARS HAVE HAD TO STRING TOGETHER PART TIME JOBS TO GET BY. Go ahead, try and find jobs that pay more than 80k/year as an optometrist that isn't running a well established practise. I bet you'll clench your cheeks and try to prove me wrong, you'll search up "optometrist job opening" and look at the first few links and then rejoice when you see a few postings saying that america's best, sams, lenscrafter, walmart etc. say that you can make 150k easily (reality is, most of these places can't even break 80-90k).

    Every year 1,350 new optometrists graduate while 420 retire.

    Let that sink in - that number is going to get even higher, believe me.

    Baby boomers are retiring yes - but even with that factored in, even with the increasingly aging population - regardless of all that, studies have been done, there are simply way too many optometrists being added into the system year by year than can be made up by optometrists retiring. The opening of 5 new schools within the past few years with potentially more to come is completely nonsensical, even KHE will agree with me on that. I'm not going to do your homework for you but several labor forecast studies done not only by the government but by the AOA itself have stated explicitly that there is already an oversupply which is going to get even worse.

    Here you go buddy I'll do your homework for ya.

    It should be an alarmingly huge red flag for you when you realize that these new schools accept sub 3.0 gpa sub 300 oat scoring applicants en masse just to grab their 40k a year in tuition. Hell, even the 'good' schools like ICO, NECO, SUNY etc. all accept substandard scoring applicants who would automatically get rejected by other 4 year schools like med/dental/pharm.

    Also, optometrist, specialize? I'm sorry what? Optometrists do not specialize at all, their specialties are really minor. A residency in optometry gets you nothing, it adds nothing to your skill set, it doesn't distinguish you at all except for the potential to work at a VA or as a lecturer (optometry school lecturers get paid 60k/year).

    The only troll here is yourself, the fact that you're so uneducated and misguided and completely unaware of reality is honestly mind boggling, but then I'm reminded that humans have a tendency to lie to themselves and tell themselves oh it'll all be okay just to get by.

    Go ahead, apply to optometry school, go through 4 years of schooling, 200k+ debt only to land 3 part time jobs paying a total of 80-90k. Don't tell me no one warned ya. There's plenty of people and threads on here throughout the years that convey the same message. Go ahead and make an account on odwire.org, here's a tip, don't apply as a pre-opt student, apply as an optometrist, you'll see that what I'm saying and trying to tell people about here is t h e - e x a c t - s a m e - m e s s a g e

    Good god you have a 3.0/2.9 gpa, you are going to be part of the problem.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
  6. Stirling


    Dec 22, 2016
    That survey acts under the assumption that ALL optometrists could increase the number of patients seen by 32% without adding staff. Just because they could doesn't mean ALL will or would want to. This assumption is not based on data but is just a hypothesis.

    I looked for another study to confirm what this one found and couldn't find anything, so its claims are weak at best

    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
  7. RetinaPuncher69


    Jan 31, 2017
    Trey, I would recommend you taking the extra time you spend typing everyday and use that to go back to a different four year program! I am going into optometry BECAUSE i have worked at a pharmacy 3+ years and have worked with 13-14 pharmacists during that time, some floaters, not ONE who has enjoyed their career. They make more money SOMETIMES, but are the most unhappy and regretful people I have ever met. I have also worked in a dental office, something i could never in my life do. I had a 3.8 GPA and a 370 OAT, so I understand where you're coming from with the whole "sub par" applicant pool, but not everyone going into his profession is expecting a 120K job on Manhattan island with lifetime benefits. Some just enjoy the field, enjoy the new procedures, like me. And before blaming your own situation on less competitive optometrists, realize that applies to every career on the freaking earth! there is competition, there is over saturation in everything. It it 2017 not 1735. But you're so smart you knew that right? But i guess not smart enough to maybe put in a few more hours on the job and get off the computer? Get another hobby, sell real estate on the side even, a lot of my optometrists friends do which boosts their income up to 200+. Just be a little innovative. Me and my fiancé are re-sell guru's we make almost a third person's worth of income just flipping real estate. EASY

    No matter WHAT career, you're in, this self loathing- poor me attitude will destroy your life. It doesn't matter if your the garbage man or a congressman, there is competition, there is repetitiveness. You will find no different scenario anywhere else. And if the big factor to you is in fact money and you're not willing to take on new hobbies or businesses, then go back to med school! go do whatever the hell you want but get over yourself.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
    poojerrr, Opticalfuture and Stirling like this.
  8. treytrey


    Mar 10, 2017
    Good god, I feel sorry for you. Your inability to comprehend a simple study (among many conveying the same message) is frightening.
  9. schmoob

    schmoob SDN Moderator 2+ Year Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    If professionalism cannot be maintained, this thread will close.
    aspirations101 likes this.
  10. Stirling


    Dec 22, 2016
    "Employment of optometrists is projected to grow 27 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

    "Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will require more optometrists. As people age, they become more susceptible to conditions that impair vision, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

    "The number of people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has grown in recent years. Diabetes has been linked to increased rates of several eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the eye and may lead to loss of vision. More optometrists will be needed to monitor, treat, and refer individuals with chronic conditions stemming from diabetes.

    "In addition, nearly all health plans cover medical eye care and many cover preventive eye exams. Furthermore, the number of individuals, particularly children, who have access to vision or eye care insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. More optometrists will be needed to provide services to more patients...

    "[A] large number of currently practicing optometrists are expected to retire over the coming decade, creating opportunities for new optometrists."

    Optometrists : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Yet another source stating the future need for more optometrists.
    Opticalfuture likes this.
  11. Stirling


    Dec 22, 2016
    Where are your sources for the many studies?
  12. Snakedoctor1

    Snakedoctor1 2+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2014
    The baby boomer argument is not a good one. Oversupply is a real problem, and Optometry does need to find ways to adapt. I do find it interesting that treytrey has mentioned in another post that he likes Optometry, he just hates that he can't find a decent job outside of where he wants to live. Now he says Optometry is repetitive and boring, and not well respected. Not such a likable profession after all? Could it be that an unsatisfied ego is the real disappointment?

    Here is some advice for you pre-opts: Find a job before you graduate.
  13. Apples2Oranges


    Feb 18, 2017
    Most likely optometry is not a particular field that will be dominated by technology. But what is going to hurt is corporate and online sites. More companies are taking optometry and transforming them into large cash flow, like how CVS/Walgreens/retail handled pharmacy and soon mid-level NP/PA with minute clinics. It's already happening in some markets now for optometry (Walmart?). Online markets and bulk stores can take away from optometry offices by making glasses and contacts much cheaper for patients to buy.
    Of course, why would you pay your optometrist office $100-200/pair of glasses when you can get more customization online for $30-50? Or even contacts? Boxes of contacts at my optometrist are a RIP OFF. I save nearly $50-100 buying an annual supply at Costco with great policies. You can't beat Costco.
  14. Opticalfuture

    Opticalfuture Opticqueen

    Feb 20, 2017
    You are right but I would still go for it I love it
  15. 20DOC20

    20DOC20 5+ Year Member

    Jun 19, 2010
    Will Optometry be replaced with technology in 20 years?

    It's not outside the realm of possibilities. I came across an article in either Optometry times or Primary Care Optometry News (one of the magazines in the 16-inch pile of magazines on my desk) a month ago that discussed the issue.

    So we have Wavefront Refraction, SD-OCT, Optos, OCT, topographers, tomographers, OCT angiography, etc... I could go on all day about the new toys we have on the market. Some of these machines can do our jobs better and faster. Right now, we have 20 different machines doing 20 different things and some are integrated into the EMR programs and some are not. What's saving us from a robot takeover presently is that all these machines aren't integrated.

    The companies who make these machines will eventually consume one another in corporate buyouts. It happened over a number of years with the contact lens companies. Once the patents are acquired, the individual machines can be integrated into just a few machines. This system plugs into an EMR. An engineer could even program an OCT to give the examiner a list of possible diagnoses, or if the machine is smart enough, THE diagnosis.

    I envision a future where the optometrist examines 200 patients per day remotely. The data is all collected by a technician who is trained to operate the 3 integrated machines it will take to do your eye exam. Chair time with the tech will take 5 minutes. The patient may still be dilated, but that doesn't count as active chair time.

    Remotely, the OD reviews the exam findings, photos, history, etc. The data might even be accessible in a 3-D virtual environment. From afar, the OD finalizes the Rx and any other treatments. He can interact with the patient via Skype.

    Someone mentioned that the patients will never accept this, that they want human contact. Since when does the government care what YOU want? You will be forced to accept it.

    The scary part of this scenario is the location of the doctor. He can be located in India, anywhere. Why pay someone 75 dollars per hour when you can outsource the job for a fraction of the cost? The equipment will be too expensive for a lone OD to buy and it will be owned by a corporation which will employ most everyone. Probably the government.

    But say the AOA steps in and stops such outsourcing - in that event - we'd need mere fraction of the OD's we have now. Just do a little math. Your average OD now sees 15 to 20 patients per day, including follow-ups.

    Technology isn't the only issue. Some jerks decided to offer "online eye exams" and they give you an Rx. The State of California, last I heard, is allowing it. They are taking advantage of the fact that the public is too lazy to go in for a real eye exam. The optimistic OD's say, "But we can educate the public," Yes, we can educate the public, etc ... but we've been educating these stupid Sheeple for decades and people STILL don't know the difference between saline and a disinfecting solution! For that manner, most of them don't know their right hand from their left, even adults!

    The magazine article's solution for the techno-revolution that's sure to replace at least some of us is to expand optometry into primary care (so we can fill the gap in primary care by treating and managing systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol). Oh, goody!

    The profession used to focus on refraction, vision therapy and non-medical treatments and they expanded into ophthalmology to "save the profession," and 25 years later, here we are again.

    My answer is: Forget Optometry. Be very careful that any profession you choose isn't about to be consumed by the robotic revolution. What would be a viable alternative knowing this information? A robot can never take the place of a psychologist or many other professions. I can think of several off the top of my head. Best wishes.

    FYI: I've been an OD for 20 years.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  16. hello07

    hello07 7+ Year Member

    Aug 17, 2007
    Go shadow an optometrist and ask any question you want. They will be more than happy to answer any question you have.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  17. optsuker

    optsuker 7+ Year Member

    Jul 28, 2008
    Still a great career, but go in with your eyes open:
    I still love going to work every day. Love seeing patients and the environment is much nicer than most medical fields. I make a multiple of the ave OD salary, working 4 days/week and usually take 4 weeks of vacation along with a yearly mission trip. I own a PP and employ other OD's.

    The big problem is that getting to where I am now is significantly more difficult/almost impossible.
    Now that the new, unnecessary schools are graduating OD's, it will be a cut-throat world to be employed in and difficult to pay off student loans quick enough to enjoy the bulk of your career.

    The pitch that an aging population will create more patients is mostly a myth. Most baby-boomers are already "elderly" and being seen. Most established OD's would love to increase their workload by 25%, which would more than cover the rest of the aging population.
    There are flat-out too many optometry schools. Nearly all of the newest schools were opened by Osteopath programs looking to increase their revenue, not to serve an unmet need.
    But by far the biggest anchor around a new grad's neck is debt. Owing more than $150K is my personal benchmark. If you goal is to work weekends at Walmart or PT for 3 different offices, great!...it should be your choice not mandated by a burdensome student loan.

    If you're motivated and get lucky, you still can succeed. It'll just be a whole lot tougher.
    For as much as I love my job, I'm not encouraging my kids to follow in my footsteps.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
    Snakedoctor1 likes this.
  18. iiii

    iiii 7+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    I had a job lined up before starting school & worked through undergrad and optometry school to keep my loan total down.
    Do the math of a $250K student loan with a $100K salary & its not pretty (worse if you want to buy a decent house/lifestyle)

    My employer will not even interview an applicant from one of the new schools (Western U and anything after) and the sentiment against the OD mills cranking out new grads is growing.

    I'm a recent grad, make $120K in a practice where salaries have grown every year, only owed $130K and I'm living modestly until my loan balance is 50% of my annual salary. On pace to really live like a doctor within the next 6-7 years, but I can't see how someone with double loan working in a corporate location for a flat salary can cut it. You won't starve, but you'll be living modestly for a looooooong time.
  19. Opticalfuture

    Opticalfuture Opticqueen

    Feb 20, 2017
    I still think it's a good career and that story sounds crazy no one ever would like robots mess with your vision! For god sakes is the world gone crazy or something. Honesty this is what I would like to do in the future and it's actually growing a lot more
  20. Optogal

    Optogal 7+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    I have to admit that I like optometry more now than I did when I first started, and I'm making more money now than I thought was ever possible in optometry. Not oodles, but definitely exceeding the expectations I had when I first started. I do admit though, that going forward, "making the same" that I am now does seem increasingly more difficult. Saturation is increasingly a problem.

    I don't consider optometry monotonous. I don't particularly recall if I did before (perhaps around the 5 year mark I didn't particularly enjoy it), but I enjoy doing eye exams now that I realise I'm fortunate to have this career.

    All this stuff about patient perception, doctor prestige etc. are irrelevant. If you do your job well, and you take care of your patients, that is all that matters. For those with prestige concerns, they have personal issues related to narcissism. You are Dr. OD. What more do you want? People fawning at you everywhere you go because you are an "eye doctor"? Grow up. You're there to help people to see better, not for them to sit in your chair and marvel at how great and accomplished you are. The eye exam is about them, not you.
    Snakedoctor1 likes this.

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