Pre-health: Optometry

School ofSciences

Pre-health: Optometry

I.   An overview of the profession
Optometry is the field involving virtually everything that has to do with eyes and vision, including examination, diagnosis and treatment of the eyes and surrounding structures, and the treatment of vision problems.

Doctors of Optometry (ODs) are independent primary health care professionals for the eyes. They should not be confused with ophthalmologists or dispensing opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery, in addition to diagnosing and treating eye conditions. Dispensing opticians fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, following prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists.

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry publishes an Optometry Career Guide (PDF), which provides more information about pursuing a degree in optometry.

II.   Prerequisites
These prerequisites listed on this table are for the Southern College of Optometry, located in Memphis, TN. They are similar to the prerequisites of other schools of optometry.

 What they want  # hours   What we call it at CBU 
 General Biology   BIOL 111 Lec & Lab
  BIOL 112 Lec & Lab 
 General Chemistry  8   CHEM 113 Lec & Lab
  CHEM 114 Lec & Lab
 Organic Chemistry  8   CHEM 211 Lec & Lab
  CHEM 212 Lec & Lab
 Physics    PHYS 150 Lec & Lab*
   PHYS 251 Lec & Lab*
   PHYS 252 Lec & Lab*
 English Composition    ENG 111 & ENG 112
 Microbiology    BIOL 321 Lec & Lab
 Mathematics 
(Calculus)
   MATH 131
 Statistics  3    BIOL 340 or BUS 221
    or PSYC 356 
 Social Sciences  6    Any course with the following prefixes:
  • HIS(tory)
  • PHIL(osophy)
  • SOC(iology)
  • EDUC 380 (Geography)
 Psychology     PSYC 105 or upper elective
 Anatomy & Physiology 
  (R)
    BIOL 217 Lec & Lab
    BIOL 218 Lec & Lab 

*Since the optics courses are calculus-based, we recommend that you take the calculus-based physics sequence at CBU.
(R): We suggest taking all such courses which are designated as recommended.

III.   The Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

What is the OAT?

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for applicants seeking admission to an optometry program. All schools and colleges of optometry in the United States, and the University of Waterloo, Canada require the OAT.

What subjects does the OAT cover?

The OAT consists of four tests: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning.

When should I take the OAT?

Successful participants who take the OAT typically complete at least one year of college education, including courses in biology, general and organic chemistry, and physics. Most applicants complete two or more years of colleges before taking the test.

When is the OAT examination administered?

The OAT exam is computerized and examinees are allowed to take the OAT an unlimited number of times but must wait at least 90 days between testing dates. However, only scores from the four most recent attempts and the total number of attempts will be reported.
Where can I get more information about the OAT?
You can submit your application for the OAT examination and/or request additional copies of score reports online. You can view the Optometry Admission Testing Program – Online Candidate Guide, by clicking here: On-line Registration for OAT. For additional information on the OAT, please call or write the:
Optometric Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
800-232-2159

IV.   Contact information regarding careers in Optometry

American Academy of Optometry -- http://www.aaopt.org/
American Optometric Association -- http://www.aoanet.org
American Optometric Student Association -- http://www.nationalaosa.org/
American Orthoptic Journal -- http://www.aoj.org
Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) -- http://www.opted.org

Contact Information at CBU:
Dr. Stan Eisen, Director of Pre-Professional Health Programs
phone:  901-321-3447
e-mail:  seisen@cbu.edu