The American Optometric Association defines a Doctor of Optometry as "an independent primary health care provider who examines, diagnoses, treats and manages diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures." Among the services optometrists provide are prescribing glasses and contact lenses, rehabilitating the visually impaired, and diagnosing and treating ocular diseases.
Optometrists perform comprehensive examinations of both the internal and external structures of the eye, carry out subjective and objective tests to evaluate patients' vision, analyze the test findings, establish a diagnosis, and determine the appropriate treatment. Optometrists treat a variety of conditions and illnesses. They treat eye diseases such as glaucoma and ulcers; visual skill problems such as the inability to move, align, fixate and focus the eye; and clarity problems such as simple near or farsightedness or complications due to the aging process, disease, accident, or malfunction.
Additionally, optometrists diagnose, manage, and refer systemic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and others that are often first detected in the eye; provide pre- and post- surgical care for cataracts, refractive laser treatment, retinal problems, and other conditions; and encourage preventative measures such as monitoring infants' and children's visual development, evaluating job/school/hobby related tasks, and promoting nutrition and hygiene education.
The day-to-day tasks of most Doctors of Optometry can be quite varied and challenging. Patient interaction can range from performing routine visual exams, removing a foreign body from the cornea, evaluating a child who is not performing well in school, managing the care of contact lens patients, prescribing medication for glaucoma, providing follow-up care after refractive surgery, and fitting a legally blind patient with a magnifying device that will enable the patient to read.
"Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures, as well as diagnose related systemic conditions.
OD's examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. OD's also do testing to determine the patient's ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, and to judge depth and see colors accurately.
OD's prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medicines to treat eye diseases."