Optometrists Are Awesome

Optometrists… That seemingly annoying group of people who constantly try to educate the public about proper eye refraction and contact lens wear (not forgetting contact lens purchasing too). Let us not forget that they too constantly remind their patients to perform nitty gritty self remedies to relief their eye discomforts, forcing a small compromise on their patients’ hectic lifestyles. For instance, taking frequent breaks from computer work whereby many today cannot afford to actually do so (some would suggest resting every 20 minutes, but come on, how many people actually do that?) and possibly daily warm compresses to relief dry eyes which would be a total hassle for many. Even some people would suggest that they are ‘medical school rejects’ in America, maybe due to the fact that they do not have the grades to pursue medicine, and hence, they settle for something lesser but similar. However, the fact remains that this particular group of people are awesome and there is no denying it. The reasons? Plenty!

Honestly speaking, the level of awesomeness of an optometrist increases multiple folds the moment he enters optometry school. Admittedly, it is probably easier than medical school but that too presents a challenge. Personally, I had classes 6 days a week for 4 years, most of the time starting from 8.30am till 4 or 5pm. In addition, we had to take courses averaging 20 credit hours per semester and we had examinations for each course once a month, with assignments in between, all before the final examinations. Not to mention our various subclinical postings. Hence, our teamwork and time management had to be in tip-top condition. We also had clinical and viva voce examinations where our examiners were just finding opportunities to fry us alive and I am pretty sure it is as tough in other institutions/ universities as well. But guess what? We all survived!

After we graduated, it was time we put all those awesome skills to practice. Those 4 years really helped to sharpen our people skills because during that time frame, we had to learn to deal with many people, from lecturers to doctors and finally to meeting and dealing with our own patients. Also, we’re awesome at counselling patients as they often search for us to complaint about their eye problems, no matter how petty they seem (many complaints are psychological anyway). Because of this, it is rare to find an optometrist that is broody, isolated and quiet as they tend to be chatty and witty. A point to note is that whenever you feel down, you might feel better after speaking to an optometrist.

Optometrists generally have a great attitude towards life (or at least they learn it by journeying with the profession) and this is likely the most awesome thing about optometrists. They are emphatic with your feelings and concerns as it is quite likely that at some point in their career, they might have seen people losing their sight. They too are a caring bunch as many often put their patient’s welfare high up in their priority list and more importantly, they are patient people in the clinic as many patients are not straightforward (which can be really annoying at times). Best of all, they are always optimistic, friendly and warm (well, at least it is true from what I see in my workplace). Looking at it from a lighter perspective, with these qualities, rest assured that even the mother in law gets well taken care of if you get married to one.

Another awesome thing about optometrists is their ability to function in different job scopes/ areas and still manage to contribute immensely to the public. Most optometrists venture into being a clinician (clinical settings or optical shops) and this allows them to detect and manage eye problems accordingly. In these settings, there are optometrists who become clinic/ store managers. We also have optometrists who prefer to work in the laboratory, producing and inventing new lenses and contact lenses. Finally, there are also groups that would be interested in research and education. Hence, they end up furthering their studies and becoming lecturers/ tutors which would mould a new generation of optometrists. Together, they contribute to ground breaking world researches that would in turn, help push humanity forward.

Many people often get confused between opticians, ophthalmologists and optometrists. They are linked closely together but to the keen public, they are actually very different with different job scopes. The difference? Well, an optometrist can perform the job of an optician and to a certain extent, the job of an ophthalmologist but the same cannot be said about the latter two. These job scopes are expected of us when we get our practicing licenses. Yes, we all know that optometrists cannot perform surgeries and prescribe medications like the ophthalmologist (we are currently still looking into this option for the future), but they can accurately diagnose and properly manage eye conditions. Like the optician, optometrists can dispense frames, lenses and provide spectacle maintenance.

However, there are certain things only an optometrist can do that the other 2 professions cannot. First of all, optometrists are trained in proper power refraction (and they keep on practicing). They are also the only profession licensed to dispense contact lenses including specialty lenses for pathological corneas and myopia control. They are also the group of professionals that can perform vision exercises or patients with treatable eye teaming and focusing problems. Finally, many get involved in the evaluation of a low vision or legally blind patients whereby after that, they dispense proper optical aids to aid them in their daily lives.

All in all, optometrists are awesome because as they journey along their profession, they will learn to be a jack of all trades (although some remain a master of none, unfortunately). There are usually two main sides to a good optometrist. On one side, optometrists are fully professional in their field of work (very much similar to doctors) while on the other side, they have this caring personality whereby they always look out for the patient’s best interests. A word of advise to everyone out there. For those who are not optometrists, make sure that in your circle of friends, at least one of them is an optometrist. You won’t go too far wrong if that is the case. If you are an optometrist, give yourself a good pat on the back as you make this world a better place. Cheers!