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Optometry is more than just stocking and selling glasses. Optometrists are distinct from opticians. An optician can dispense glasses or contact lenses.To do the testing and prescription, you need to be a fully trained and qualified optometrist.


The Dublin Institute of Technology runs the only undergraduate Optometry programme in Ireland. This is an honours degree (Level eight) course. Candidates need at least one higher-level C3 in a Leaving Cert science subject.

Optometry students study general science subjects such as Physics, Biology and Chemistry. In addition, the study specialist eye-science subjects including Optometry and Optical Dispensing, Binocular Vision, Ocular Pharmacology & Contact Lenses and Optometric Instruments. The course also includes Business and Law subjects to prepare students for the professional requirements of an optometry practice. In the fourth year of the course, students take supervised optometric work placements. They also do a research project or conduct clinical case studies.

Graduates take examinations set by the Association of Optometrists Ireland. Once they pass, they can register to practice.

As there are so few places to study optometry in Ireland, some people travel to the UK and take a course there.

The Work

There are good opportunities for optometrists in Ireland and abroad. After qualification, most new graduates work in optometry practices. Generally, their main tasks are eye examinations, determining vision problems and preparing prescriptions. Many optometrists choose to specialise – some concentrate on treating partially sighted patients, while others choose sports vision or contact lenses. Other optometry graduates work in hospitals and for lens manufacturers. There are also opportunities in education, research and consulting work.

Examining patients’ eyes is the fundamental part of an optometrist’s day. This process involves the assessing of three main areas of eye function: visual sharpness and refraction (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism), binocular vision (how the eyes work together), and eye health.

An optometrist’ work goes further than asking you to read out the letters; expertise with a variety of instruments is mandatory. For example the retinoscope measures refraction by the amount of light that bounces off the retina, which determines the basis of a patient’s prescription.

The various tests that optometrists perform allow them to examine the internal and external structures of patients’ eyes. This means they may detect eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts, as well as systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Optometrists won’t treat such conditions themselves, but rather refer patients to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor). However, they do play an important role in the early detection and diagnosis of these potentially debilitating conditions.

Did you know?

The reason why we blink is to lubricate our eyeballs so they don’t get too dry.

Further Resources

Association of Optometrists Ireland


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