The Future of Optometry: Career Trends and Hiring Practices


  • New optometry career trends, like a focus on teleoptometry and working in academic or public health settings, are changing the face of the industry. 
  • Many optometrists are moving toward specialized fields in optometry, such as pediatric or sports vision, to provide tailored eye care services to patients. 
  • These optometry career trends are impacting hiring practices, with employers hiring those who are comfortable with technology and paying increased salaries to compensate for specialized skills.

The optometry industry is undergoing major changes, influencing several optometry career trends in the field. From focusing on specialized practice areas to embracing new technologies like teleoptometry, eyecare providers are working in new areas like public health and academic settings. Shifting pay and benefits expectations and a new focus on building a professional network and reputation are also impacting the future of optometrical careers.

Emerging Optometry Career Trends

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, optometry careers are growing at a faster-than-normal pace. The profession is expected to grow by 10% between 2021 and 2031, with around 1,700 openings in the field per year.

This growth is fueled by optometry career trends that are changing the type of care optometrists provide. It’s also a result of diversified optometrical roles and the incorporation of technological advances into standard eyecare practice.

Shift Toward Specializations

The field of optometry is experiencing a growing emphasis on specialization as a response to the changing needs of patients. Specialization allows practitioners to address specific patient needs and provide more targeted care.

Optometrists — particularly those in private practice — are gravitating toward specialties such as pediatrics, low vision, dry eye management, and neuro-optometry. The introduction of new technologies and treatment methods, like AI for glaucoma imaging and autologous serum eye drops for dry eye, has brought exciting changes to vision care, fueling the growth of specialized practices.

Specialization allows optometrists to maximize their expertise, expand their scope of practice, attract more patients, and enhance revenue.

Impact of Technology and Teleoptometry

Technological advancements and an increase in demand for teleoptometry services have reshaped optometry career trends. The emergence of digital health solutions and remote patient care has opened up new avenues for optometrists to deliver care from a distance.

These innovations have introduced innovative tools and platforms that enable optometrists to provide remote care, expanding their reach and enhancing convenience for patients.

The impact of technology on optometry services allows providers to conduct virtual consultations, monitor eye conditions remotely, and provide timely interventions.

For example, eye care providers can use digital retinal imaging devices to capture high-resolution images of the retina, enabling accurate diagnoses from a distance. They can also use digital patient communication tools to share educational materials, send appointment reminders, and get feedback from patients who have had a virtual appointment.

These tools expand access to care, improve efficiency, and create new opportunities for optometrists to deliver quality eye care beyond traditional practice settings.

Diversification of Roles and Settings

Optometrists are experiencing diversification in optometry roles, expanding beyond traditional practice settings. Optometrists now have opportunities in various sectors, including corporate, academia, research, and public health.

In the corporate sector, optometrists have the opportunity to contribute to employee wellness programs and vision care companies. Within wellness programs, optometrists play a crucial role in promoting and maintaining employees’ visual health. They may provide comprehensive eye examinations, prescribe corrective eyewear, and educate employees on eye health and safety practices.

Optometrists working in vision care companies collaborate with industry professionals to develop innovative products and services, ensuring optimal visual outcomes.

Optometry in academia allows optometrists to contribute to advancing optometry research and developing innovative solutions by conducting studies and investigations that address various aspects of eye health and vision care. Through their research, they can explore new diagnostic techniques, therapeutic interventions, and preventative measures to improve patient outcomes.

Public health optometry offers a chance for providers to address community eye care needs and promote preventive measures. By working in this sector, optometrists can engage in initiatives such as conducting screenings, developing and implementing public health programs, collaborating with interdisciplinary teams, and advocating for eye health policies.

glasses fitting

Changing Compensation Expectations

In response to the changing optometry hiring practices, employers are also demonstrating a transformation in optometry compensation trends. Optometrists who have pursued additional training or certifications in areas such as pediatric optometry, geriatric optometry, or specialty contact lenses are often considered more valuable and can command higher compensation.

The BLS reports that the average median pay for optometrists in 2021 was $124,300 per year. However, by 2023, the median annual pay for an optometrist had risen to $187,654, with a high average of around $373,000.

There is also a rise in professional development in optometry. Many providers are broadening their knowledge through the American Optometric Association’s EyeLearn professional development hub with CPC-approved courses, or with helpful webinars and other eye-care resources through optometry EHR providers.

Optometrists with advanced skills in high-demand areas now anticipate higher salaries and performance-based incentives. This change reflects the growing recognition of the value that specialized optometrists bring to the field.

Optometry Post-Pandemic

Following the pandemic, optometrists are experiencing a rise in conditions like pediatric myopia and dry eye due to increased screen time and limited outdoor activities.

Children spending more time indoors for remote learning and entertainment are experiencing higher rates of myopia. Young adults are also at a higher risk of myopia; a 2021 meta-analysis suggesting that digital screen time exposure may increase the risk of myopia by up to 8 times.

These emerging eye health issues are creating a demand for specialized interventions, such as myopia control strategies and dry eye management. This could indicate that optometrists with extensive experience diagnosing and treating specific conditions may be more desirable to employers.

The Increasing Importance of Soft Skills

With the rise of telehealth, effective communication and empathy are vital to providing quality care remotely. Employers recognize that patient satisfaction and loyalty depend not only on clinical expertise but also on optometrists’ ability to connect and build trust.

Soft skills such as active listening, empathy, and clear communication encourage patient engagement and ensure a positive experience. This means that hiring managers tend to prioritize optometry candidates who possess strong soft skills, understanding their critical role in delivering exceptional patient-centered care in traditional and telehealth settings.

The Role of Networking and Professional Reputation

Networking and professional reputation are essential for shaping the success of optometrists and their practice. By actively engaging in networking activities, such as attending conferences, joining professional organizations, and participating in community events, optometrists can establish valuable connections within the industry. These connections can lead to referrals, collaborative opportunities, and access to resources.

Optometrists also need to maintain a positive professional reputation through excellent patient care, ethical practices, and active involvement in the optometric community.

Increasingly, patients are researching their healthcare providers online and relying on social media reviews to guide their choices. In this environment, reputation is becoming more and more important to maintain patient trust and professional credibility, foster long-term success, and provide more employment opportunities for optometrists.

How Shifting Career Trends are Changing Optometrical Hiring

Optometry practice changes and the diversification of roles have expanded the range of employment opportunities, requiring optometrists to adapt to different work environments and collaborate effectively in interdisciplinary teams.

Optometry hiring trends are also focusing more on specializations rather than general practice. Employers are seeking optometrists with targeted expertise to meet evolving patient demands. To attract and retain specialist top talent, employers are adjusting their compensation packages to recognize the skills and experience of those employees.

Optometry candidates are also expected to have extensive technology skills and be adept at teleoptometry. This means they need to be comfortable navigating digital health solutions and remote patient care.

optometry exam

Help Your Optometry Practice Thrive With RevolutionEHR

The evolving career trends in optometry are transforming the hiring landscape and creating new opportunities and expectations for optometrists. Specializations, technological advancements, diversification of roles, and changing compensation structures are reshaping the profession.

Embrace these trends at your optometry practice with RevolutionEHR. As an integrated, cloud-based EHR, RevolutionEHR can help your practice use technology and stay updated in this dynamic industry.

Schedule a demo today to see how you can experience the freedom to focus on providing exceptional eye care with the latest in optometry EHR technology.

a new vision for your optometry practice