The Job Outlook for Optometrists

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  • The future is looking really clear for optometrists. Here is the rundown on what you can expect in the growth of this field in the next few years.

    Whenever a student is considering what a possible career path, one of the most important questions pertains to the availability of jobs after graduation. No matter how fascinating a particular field of study might be, such as optometry and prescribing contact lenses, like Proclear Toric lenses, no one wants to graduate from school in a field where the opportunities for employment are low. Fortunately for those interested in optometry or other specialties dealing with the eyes, the outlook looks strong for the coming years.

    Here is what all interested students should know about the job outlook for optometrists.

    What optometrists can expect over the next few years

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures employment trends across industries and makes projections based upon their analysis. According to this agency, the growth rate in the optometry field is projected to be 24 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much higher than the 11 percent average growth rate anticipated for all professions. This will result in about 8,100 new jobs. When this is considered in addition to the number of jobs that will need to be filled because of professionals leaving or retiring, there is a very positive job outlook for those just getting started.

    The reasons behind this projected growth

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one significant reason behind this growth is the aging population. As people get older, various vision problems, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, become more common. This will provide a greater need for eye professions. The older patients will need to have regular eye exams to gauge their eye health and watch for potential problems.

    Another reason to consider has been the growth in the number of patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Many of these diseases can also have implications for the eyes. Diabetes is known to increase the risk for diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataract and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. The rise in the number of patients with these diseases means that there will also be a need for professionals who have the skills needed to help patients avoid complications, such as blindness, and treat their eyes. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by chronically high blood sugar that then causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Early detection and treatment of the disease has the potential to reduce the risk of blindness from this retinopathy by up to 95 percent, so the role of optometrists and ophthalmologists in the lives of these patients is critical.

    More optometrists will also be needed simply because more people will have access to these professionals in the coming years. An increasing number of health plans are including coverage, which means that more people are able to visit an eye-care professional when they have vision problems. This increase in coverage also includes Medicare and Medicaid. Those who need contact lenses or other vision correcting devices will now be able to get the help they need.

    For those in school, knowing that their chosen field offers considerable job security can be an enormous source of relief. Those interested in entering the field of optometry can be confident that there will be a strong market for their skills when they graduate. The demographics of the United States are changing, as the population grows older and certain chronic diseases become more common. Insurance is allowing those with vision struggles to get contacts, to help improve their quality of life. These changes will impact the growth of the optometry field, opening new jobs those interested in pursuing this new career. Those interested in the field should investigate their schooling options and begin building their medical credentials.

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