Optometrist

Optometrist

Optometrist is a health care specialist whose main tasks are the examination and correction of human ophthalmic functions, and the matching, manufacturing and repairing of spectacles, contact lenses and other optic devices. Optometrist’s everyday duties also comprise the counselling of patients in need of optic devices and directing them to oculist’s examination.

An optometrist acts as an expert who solves vision problems that originate from environment and require knowledge about the perception of light, colour and forms. 

Nominal length of study: 3,5 years
Language of studies: Estonian language (in Tallinn)        

The story up to now

The training of optometrists in Tallinn Health Care College was launched in 1998. The diversification of Estonian trading and economy caused a rapid increase of optic stores, this triggered the lack of oculists who did not manage with the examining of increasing number of patients. Queues to oculist reception were up to 2 months. In mid 90’s, a necessity arose for specialists who would be capable of prescribing, selling and constructing spectacles.

In developed European countries, the training of optometrists has been going on for decades. An oculist is visited only in case of a sick eye (a need for spectacles of a healthy eye is not considered as illness). Through the years, a situation has evolved that optometrists work in optics stores and oculists in clinics. 

What does an optometrist do?

The optometrist profession comprises all the knowledge and skills required in an optics store:

  • checking the client’s visual acuity and prescribing spectacles or contact lenses;
  • recommending and retail selling of spectacles, sun glasses, contact lenses and other optic devices;
  • assembling spectacles and carrying out smaller repairing;
  • after-maintenance and checking spectacles and/or contact lenses.

Concluding from above, optometrist is an expert in this field who can independently manage with whatever activity or problem related to correction of human visual acuity and work in optics store.

What do we expect from a candidate to become an optometrist?

Here we can mention a range of nice characteristic features and good knowledge from various areas, but let’s be realistic. A person wanting to become an optometrist should:

  • be a good communicator;
  • have an evolved sense of empathy;
  • be ready for customer service;
  • be eager to study;
  • have advanced skills in science subjects.

And of course, we expect the interest towards the optometrist profession from every candidate and the wish to develop oneself through coming years.

What do we teach to the becoming optometrist?

All students from different health care fields study general subjects and subjects supporting basic subjects in same volume and structure – this forms a so-called basis for acquiring speciality subjects (basic subjects).

Together with practice in work locations and clinics, basic subjects (see Study programme) form over half of the total volume of studies. A huge proportion is formed by vision examination, assembling spectacles and teaching optics. Lecturers of basic subjects in the chair of optometry are recognized specialists possessing up-to-date knowledge about optics speciality due to their everyday work.

The classes for examining vision and assembling spectacles are carried out in specially furnished study-labs. The labs have contemporary interior, enabling the students to experience the latest technological accomplishments.

The future of an optometrist?

Specialists with optometrist diploma are predominantly working in optics stores and also in smaller clinics conducting different eye procedures (laser operations etc). It is presumable that with the globalization of computers and aging of population, the work for optometrist will never end. We have started considering of applying optometrist in other areas related with vision – all sorts of ergonomic problems, consulting related with light and lightening, the impact of different colour tones in everyday human (work) environment etc.
As we receive over 90% of the surrounding information with the help of our eyes, the questions and possible solutions related with vision will never be set to the background.