USA optometry schools require a baccalaureate degree for applicants to be eligible for
matriculation. To apply, you must complete an OptomCAS application online and take
the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). The OAT is administered continuously
throughout the year in the USA. The OAT covers Natural Sciences, Physics, Reading
Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. OptomCAS is a centralized application for all Schools of Optometry in the US. Application materials may include official transcripts, essays and letters of recommendation.
Optometry schools in the US are four year programs, and the last year contains clinical
rotations or externships. New students begin didactic education in ophthalmics, optics,
pharmacology, biological science, and vision sciences. After mastering the didactic
material, students are equipped with a firm foundation for optometric care. Optometry
schools commence clinical education through preclinical training laboratories during the first or second year. In the third year of optometry school, students practice patient-care training in the school’s official clinic by seeing various patients in one day. To promote evidence based training, the program administers increasing clinical responsibilities to students while they are supervised by clinical faculty. Fourth year students rotate through externships at different clinics in the US (or abroad). Clinical professors staffed at these externships will provide mentorship and guide students in their training of evidence-based care, diagnosis, treatment, and potential management of ocular disease or disorders in vision. At the end of their fourth and final year in school, students have completed the professional program and will graduate with a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. New OD’s will be required to pass all three sections of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry Exam (NBEO) to obtain a license to practice optometry in the US.
In China, instead of receiving a Doctor of Optometry degree, students can receive
vocational training in optometry, a Bachelor of Science degree in optical ophthalmology, or a medical degree in ophthalmology. There is no centralized application so you will need to apply to each program separately. Optometry education covers the anatomy and refractive system of the eye, and basic understanding in principles of medical physics of the eye. The School of Ophthalmology and Optometry at Wenzhou Medical University (WMU) offers a 3-year program operating in Preparation of Optometry Education. Once students graduate, they become optometric technicians, trainers in visual rehabilitation, or basic level optometrists in hospitals.
WMU also offers a four-year Optical Ophthalmology program. When students graduate,
they receive a Bachelor of Science degree. They will be able to practice in all levels of
hospitals as optometric technicians, optometrists, or trainers in low vision rehabilitation.
To apply to either programs, a certificate of senior high school education, a transcript,
and a copy of your passport is required to be submitted with the application.
In China, optometry is not a regulated profession and optometrists are not certified to
give medical care. If you would like to pursue a medical degree in ophthalmology, a
master’s degree in an affiliated study is required. In the US, optometry is a progressive
legislative occupation. Optometrists in the US will be able to expand their medical scope of practice as more laws are passed.