Employment of optometrists is expected to grow
much faster than the average
for all occupations through 2018, in response to the vision care needs of a
growing and aging population.
Excellent job opportunities are expected.
Employment change. 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.
Employment of 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
The 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 optometrists.
Job prospects. 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.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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Optometrist Job Outlook