According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
employment of optometrists is projected to grow 24 percent between 2008
and 2018. A growing population that recognizes the importance of good
eye care will increase demand for optometrists. Also, an increasing
number of health insurance plans that include vision care should
generate more job growth.
As the population ages,
there will likely be more visits to optometrists and ophthalmologists
because of the onset of vision problems that occur at older ages, such
as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. In addition, increased
incidences of diabetes and hypertension in the general population as
well as in the elderly will generate greater demand for optometric
services as these diseases often affect eyesight.
optometrists would grow more rapidly if not for productivity gains
expected to allow each optometrist to see more patients. These expected
gains stem from greater use of optometric assistants and other support
personnel, who can reduce the amount of time optometrists need with each
increasing popularity of laser surgery to correct some vision problems
was previously thought to have an adverse effect on the demand for
optometrists as patients often do not require eyeglasses afterward.
However, optometrists will still be needed to provide preoperative and
postoperative care for laser surgery patients, therefore laser eye
surgery will likely have little to no impact on the employment of
Excellent job opportunities are expected over the next decade because
there are only 19 schools of optometry in the United States, resulting
in a limited number of graduates (about 1,200) each year. This number is
not expected to keep pace with demand. However, admission to optometry
school is competitive.
In addition to job
growth, the need to replace optometrists who retire will also create
many employment opportunities. According to the American Optometric
Association, nearly one-quarter of practicing optometrists are
approaching retirement age. As they begin to retire, many opportunities
will arise, particularly in individual and group practices.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.