What It Takes To Become An Optometrist In Canada | Calgary Optometry

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What It Takes To Become An Optometrist In Canada | Calgary Optometry

The eyes are fascinating, complex, and delicate. Because of the intricacies of the eyes, they require specific care. And a person who wants to help people achieve optimal vision health requires special training. If you’re interested in learning more about the eyes and creating a career centred around helping people preserve their vision and maintain their eye health, optometry is likely the right field for you. Optometry is a medical specialization that requires you to graduate with the professional designation of Doctor of Optometry (DO). To become a doctor of optometry requires 7 or 8 years of schooling as well as the proper accreditation and registration.

Requirements To Become A Doctor Of Optometry

Schooling
There are only 2 schools of optometry in Canada: the University of Waterloo and the Université de Montréal. You can complete your optometry program at either institute.

  • Undergraduate Studies: A doctor of optometry starts their educational career with 3 years of undergraduate studies where they must receive a minimum average of 75%, most commonly in the sciences. The program you choose within the faculty of Science will not influence your admittance to the optometry program, but programs such as biology, biochemistry, biomedical science, or pre-optometry will set you up well for the next phase of schooling. The University of Waterloo explicitly states that “the admission requirements for the School of Optometry can be completed at any accredited university in Canada” and preference will not be given to Waterloo students. If you are in Quebec, you only need 2 years of undergraduate studies in CEGEP.
  • Optometry Program: After you’ve completed the necessary years in your undergraduate program, you will need to complete either a 4 or 5-year optometry program. This program must be recognized by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education. Once you graduate from the optometry program, you will need to be registered with the College of Optometrists of the province you plan on practicing in. The title of optometrist is protected and you cannot use that term for yourself until you have completed this step.
  • Residency: Many optometrists now choose to do a year of residency training after graduating. While this step is not always required it is becoming increasingly common both for the practical skills learned and for an added advantage on your resume.
  • Licensing: To become a licensed optometrist in Canada you need to pass an exam administered by the Optometry Examining Board of Canada. You will also have to satisfy any provincial board requirements for whichever province or territory you will be practicing in and acquire licensing through that province/territory.

Tasks Of An Optometrist
Optometrists are trained to:

  • Treat, manage, and correct eye conditions and conditions related to the eyes. Diagnose, treat, and manage vision disorders.
  • Write prescriptions for pharmaceuticals related to eye health.
  • Remove items from the eye.
  • Manage eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and more.
  • Provide primary eye care.

Optometrists also have to work with the public every day and are sometimes required to give patients potentially upsetting diagnoses. This position not only takes an intricate understanding of eye health but also a delicate approach and an ability to work compassionately with patients. Doctors of optometry also work with patients of all ages, from babies to seniors, and need to know how to conduct eye exams and manage eye disorders in people who cannot communicate well. This career path requires good interpersonal and communication skills.

Interested In Becoming A Doctor Of Optometry? Speak With Us!

At Sunridge Eye Clinic, we deeply care about the eye health of not only our patients but of all Canadians. We are thrilled to see people pursue their passion to become a doctor of optometry and join us in the field, helping to save vision and preserve the eye health of Canadians. If you’re interested in discussing schooling with our Calgary optometrists or if you want to follow along during the eye exam process, contact the team at Sunridge Eye Clinic. You can ask questions as different tests are administered and discuss with our friendly and helpful staff. To schedule an appointment at Sunridge Eye Clinic, call 1-403-280-7518 or fill out the online contact formLearn more about the Sunridge Eye Clinic optometrists and their credentials here.

FAQ

Q: How much does it cost to become a doctor of optometry in Canada?
A: This will depend on how long the program takes an individual, as well as any added expenses such as textbooks, living expenses, and more. Assuming an average time of study as 8 years and not including living expenses, schooling typically costs approximately $ 100,000 (CAD). This is less than half of what it costs to get the same degree in the US.

Q: Are there any ways to help me finance my schooling?
A: There are student loans available through the Government of Canada as well as personal loans. There are also a variety of scholarships available through the universities you apply to, through high schools (if you are going into optometry from high school), and through private businesses and individuals. Many of these scholarships will require minimum averages and personal essays. There are also bursaries available if you are eligible.

Q: Can optometrists perform surgery on the eyes?
A: No, only an ophthalmologist can perform surgery on the eyes. To become an ophthalmologist, a person needs to complete 4 years of medical school instead of an optometry program and they must have completed a medical residency in medical and surgical care of the eyes at an accredited university hospital.


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