What is an Optometrist                                  

What is a Doctor of Optometry?

Doctors of Optometry (O.D.s/optometrists) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye.  Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.

  • Doctors of Optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures.
  • Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.
  • An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.
  • Optometrists are eye health care professionals state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.

Think About Your Eyes                 

No matter what your age – from toddler up to grandparent – having an annual eye exam is a good thing!  Did you know an eye exam can lead to early detection of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke?  Has your child had a comprehensive exam?  If not, you could be risking their learning ability and quality of life.  Find out more at www.ThinkAboutYourEyes.com!


National Commission on Vision and Health
Healthy People 2020

Community Health Centers

Although the number of optometrists employed in community and rural health services is low, there is increasing recognition that the addition of optometrists benefits the full spectrum of health care. Currently, about 18% of federally qualified health centers provide in-house eye care services in comparison with dentistry at about 60 percent coverage. With a limited number of qualified health centers providing eye care services, those seeking care do not have equal access to eye care services nationwide. This limited vision coverage has been recognized by the National Association of Community Health Centers and the National Rural Health Association. Both of these associations have called for the inclusion of optometrists in the National Health Service Corps as a means to address the shortfall in vision services that community health centers may offer.

National Health Service Corps

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a program of the Department of Health and Human Resources and Services Administration and is administered by HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health which is the focal point for providing primary care to underserved and vulnerable populations. The NHSC assists in the development, recruitment and retention of community-responsive clinicians dedicated to practicing in health professional shortage areas. The NHSC offers scholarship and loan repayment programs (in return for obligated service). Currently optometry is not eligible to participate in the NHSC programs however, the AOA has initiated a plan for inclusion in NHSC. The AOA has enlisted the support of the National Association of Community Health Centers and the National Rural Health Association to promote programs of comprehensive vision care including the addition of optometry to the NHSC.

Community Health Centers


Congratulations Dr. Ashley Crabtree, Young OD of the Year!  Dr. Crabtree is shown with SDOS Past President  Dr. Terry Wolthuis.

Dr. Jill Hart receives her OD of the Year Award from SDOS Past President Dr. Terry Wolthuis.  Congratulations, Dr. Hart!

Fall Conference:  September 15-16, Holiday Inn City Center, Sioux Falls