Optometrists provide general eye and vision care. However, optometry involves more than just prescribing and fitting contact lenses and glasses. According to the American Optometric Association, “Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures, as well as diagnose related systemic conditions.” Optometrists perform comprehensive examinations of both the internal and external structures of the eye, diagnose problems and diseases, and prescribe appropriate treatment. Optometrists also evaluate vision, diagnose visual abnormalities, and prescribe appropriate corrective treatment. In addition, many systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes often involve the eyes in the earliest stages; optometrists can detect these changes and refer the patient for further medical evaluation.

Approximately 2/3 of the country’s eye care is delivered by Doctors of Optometry (ODs). Optometry is one the nation’s largest independent healthcare professions, and typically offers regular working hours, minimal emergency duty, and geographic mobility. There is an increasing demand for ODs, due in part to the aging of the U.S. population and the vision requirements of an increasingly mechanical and technological society.

Most ODs are in general practice, but there are opportunities to specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, sports vision, occupational vision, vision therapy, and scientific research.

Most schools of optometry require at least 3 years of college work (90 semester hours) to be eligible to apply to the optometry program. Several schools require completion of a bachelor’s degree. Following the undergraduate years, accepted students must complete 4 years of study at an accredited college of optometry. There are 23 schools of optometry in the continental U.S., and 1 in Puerto Rico. There are currently no schools of optometry in North Carolina.

For a complete list of U.S. Optometry Schools click here.

Recommended Core Courses

The following classes are recommended for completion of the basic pre-optometry core at UNC Charlotte. The classes are recommended to cover the minimum basic requirements at the majority of optometry schools and/or prepare you for the OAT exam.

General Biology with labsBIOL 2120+2130 
Microbiology with labBIOL 4250Some schools will accept BIOL 2259.
General Chemistry with labsCHEM 1251+1252 
Organic Chemistry with labCHEM 2131 
BiochemistryCHEM 3165 or CHEM 4165 
Physics with labsPHYS 1101+1102  or PHYS 2101+2102 
Human Anatomy & Physiology with labsBIOL 2273 +2274Some schools accept EXER 2168 + 2169.
CalculusMATH 1241Some schools will accept MATH 1120, Business Calculus.
StatisticsSTAT 1220, 1221, or 1222 
EnglishUWRT 1103 or 1104Optometry schools require 6 hrs of English.  Some schools will accept 1103 or 1104 alone to meet the 6 hours.  Contact individual optometry schools for their current policy on the English prerequisite, or contact Pre-Health Advising.
PsychologyPSYC 1101Lab not required.
Social/Behavioral SciencePsychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Political ScienceNeed 6 hours total.

Each optometry school establishes their specific prerequisites; always check the websites of the schools that you want to attend.

More Resources


Currently, there is no active student club for Pre-Optometry students.