How to become a pediatric optometrist

Updated April 17, 2017

An optometrist is a doctor who is trained to do refractions (prescribing of glasses and contact lenses) as well as to examine eyes for vision problems, defects and disease. Additional optometric training is an option for postdoctoral study in speciality areas of medicine such as sports medicine, geriatrics, neurology and paediatric optometry.

Complete your initial studies from an accredited university. All optometry schools require undergraduate course work from accredited schools. Optometrists must complete four additional years of training to become a Doctor of Optometry (OD). Specialists in Pediatric Optometry complete a minimum of one additional year of training in residency in an advanced clinical program. There are 19 accredited schools of optometry in the United States, and competition for entrance is intense, with only one in three applicants being accepted, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Verify that the optometry school you apply to is considered qualified. A list of accredited optometry schools and their specific requirements is available at the Eye Care Source website (see References). All optometrists must pass a comprehensive state exam and national examination which is given by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO), according to the American Optometric Association.

Research the areas of paediatric optometry that interest you. Visit university websites like the New England College of Optometry and learn about individual paediatric optometric programs. Additional schooling for paediatric optometrists includes extensive clinical training and research in multiple areas of infant and childhood vision problems and diseases. Paediatric optometry is highly specialised and a good option for someone interested in community service and involvement. According to Kaplan University, one in five school-age children have prohibitive vision problems that affect learning.

Complete your postgraduate work in a school that offers the type of experience and area of paediatric optometry you are pursuing. Residency includes working in different clinical settings. Depending on the school, there may be multiple opportunities to learn paediatric optometry in unique environments. Residents in the Pediatric Optometry Program at the University of Indiana School of Optometry train at three different clinic locations and treat children with low vision problems, work with paediatric contact lenses, evaluate multiple types of childhood vision problems and gain experience with paediatric ophthalmology (eye surgery).

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About the Author

Beth Richards, a freelance writer since 2002, writes about health and draws from her 25 years as a licensed dispensing optician. She has authored several books, writes for national magazines including "Country Living" and "Organic Family" and is a health and wellness features writer for several publications. She is earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland.