ITEEA The Elementary STEM Journal, Vol. 23, Issue 4
PublisherInternational Technology and Engineering Educators Association, Reston
ReleasedMay 1, 2019
The Elementary STEM Journal, Volume 23, Issue 4 - May, 2019

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Career Connections: Optometrists

Career Connections

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by Teena Coats and Bryanne Peterson

Optometrists, also known as eye doctors, help people who are having trouble seeing get glasses or contacts to correct their vision.

Optometrists work to promote healthy lifestyle decisions that can affect a patient’s eyesight, such as not smoking and wearing safety glasses when doing dangerous work (BLS, 2018). Optometrists often work in private practices working full-time, either on their own or with a group of other doctors within the same practice.

Optometrists do a lot more than just help people find which set of glasses is best for them. They can diagnose and treat major problems or diseases, injuries, and eye disorders. Optometrists utilize a lot of different technology in diagnosing their patients (BLS, 2018). For instance, they use a special machine called a tonometer, or the puff test, to determine the internal pressure of the eyeball. Tests like this one can inform the optometrists of diseases that affect this pressure and can leave a patient blind if not diagnosed early. However, these doctors are not licensed to do any type of surgery or procedures on the eye itself (AAPOS, 2011). To do this, individuals would have to seek a different doctoral degree along with eight years of residency training.

Individuals who specialize in optometry work hard every day to make sure that everyone can see. Many of these doctors will participate in charity programs that allow them to serve people outside of the United States and make a global impact with the work they do. The work they do is crucial, and the need for them is growing.


Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational outlook handbook, optometrists. Available on the internet at 

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. (2011). Difference between an ophthalmologist, optometrist, and optician. Retrieved from


Teena Coats is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in STEM education at NC State and is a graduate of the Integrative STEM Education MA program at Virginia Tech. She can be reached at

Bryanne Peterson, Ph.D., has a decade of classroom experience and now works with educators to improve STEM education and career development in their classrooms. She can be reached at