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The role

An Optometrist (sometimes known as an Opthalmic Optician) tests people’s eyes to determine the standard of their eyesight, and to check for diseases or injuries in them.

 They use a number of instruments in order to do this, including reading charts and lights which are shone into a patient’s eyes.

An Optometrist decides on the strength of a patient’s vision from these tests, and if they require help in correcting their vision, the Optometrist will give advice about glasses and contact lenses, supplying them as well.

Where there are diseases or injuries that need specialist attention, an Optometrist would refer their patient to a specialist. 

How to become an Optometrist

Optometrists in the UK must be registered with the General Optical Council (GOC). Requirements for joining the GOC include a candidate possessing a degree in optometry, having carried out a year of supervised work with a qualified Optometrist, and passing the GOC final assessment.

Entry requirements for a degree in optometry vary between institutions and should be checked, however it is expected that a candidate possess two science A-Levels.

Those already working as dispensing opticians who wanted to retrain in optometry could have the entry requirements for the degree relaxed.

Skills and knowledge required

  • Good people skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • A scientific mind
  • The ability to adapt to new methods and technology
  • Strong organisational skills


When in their one-year pre-registration period, an Optometrist usually earns between £17,000 and £21,000 a year.

Those with experience can earn upwards of £25,000, going up to £44,000 and sometimes beyond.

The hours

Optometrists usually work full-time, between 37 and 40 hours a week. This may involve some evening and weekend work.

Useful websites - General Optical Council (GOC) - College of Optometrists

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