Do you have what it takes to be the guardian of sight? Embarking on the journey to becoming an eye doctor is like navigating through a complex, yet rewarding maze.

It’s a path less traveled, demanding dedication, and a keen sight for the milestones ahead. Ready to know how long does it take to become an eye doctor?

Let’s get into it!

The Undergraduate Years

It all begins with a Bachelor’s degree. Although there is no specific major required for optometry school, most pre-optometry students choose to focus on:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • other natural sciences

Typically, undergraduate programs take four years to complete. During this time, students are encouraged to maintain a high GPA. They also need to participate in extracurricular activities that demonstrate their interest and commitment to the field of optometry.

The Crucial Steps of Medical School Admission

After completing an undergraduate degree, aspiring eye specialists need to apply and get accepted into an accredited optometry school. The duration of this program is four years, culminating in a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree.

It’s important to note that admission into this school is highly competitive, with only a few applicants getting accepted each year. To increase your chances, you need to have:

  • a strong academic background in sciences
  • letters of recommendation
  • competitive scores on the OAT

Once accepted, students are immersed in a rigorous curriculum that combines both theoretical and practical training. This includes classroom lectures, laboratory work, and clinical rotations.

For those preparing for the OAT, click to view this OAT prep material to aid in your review and ensure you’re thoroughly prepared for the exam.

Internship and Residency Training

Upon receiving their OD degree, new eye doctors must complete a one-year internship that provides hands-on experience in a clinical setting. This is followed by a residency program lasting three years.

During this period, they are supervised by experienced eye doctors and gain valuable experience in areas such as:

  • pediatric optometry
  • low vision rehabilitation
  • contact lenses
  • ocular disease management

The program equips graduates with the necessary skills required for a career as an independent optometrist. Plus, residents often get paid a competitive salary during their training.

Board Certification and Licensure

After completing the residency program, aspiring eye doctors must obtain licensure in their respective state. This involves passing the NBEO exams and satisfying any additional requirements set by the state board.

While it may vary from state to state, a common requirement is that applicants must pass three parts of the NBEO exams:

  • the Applied Basic Science
  • Patient Assessment and Management
  • Clinical Skills Evaluation

Once licensed, optometrists may also pursue board certification in a specific area of practice through the American Board of Optometry.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Eye Doctor on Average

From start to finish, it takes about eight years to become an eye doctor. However, that is not the end of the road. Like all medical professionals, optometrists are required to fulfill continuing education to maintain their license and stay up-to-date in the field.

It’s a challenging yet fulfilling career that requires dedication and lifelong learning. So, if you’re willing to put in the work, knowing how long does it take to become an eye doctor shouldn’t daunt you. After all, the reward of helping people see clearly is priceless.

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