Financial Aid and Scholarships

For young doctors of optometry, an excellent way to build a strong practice is by offering new services in your office and by offering services outside the traditional office setting. This includes performing occasional volunteer work or regularly scheduled visits to a manufacturing company or nursing home.

The key to increasing your practice in this way is making contacts in your community. Many people who previously weren’t aware of your practice will come to know you as a good source for professional eye care services in their community. The AOA will help you bring additional patients into your practice through these efforts.

How to reach new patient populations

Become an InfantSEE providerInfantSEE®, a public health program managed by Optometry Cares®—the AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child's quality of life. Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service. By becoming an InfantSEE provider, you can establish new patient relationships with parents of children, siblings, grandparents etcto grow your patient base.

Vision therapy—As an doctors of optometry, you are in a unique position to intervene by providing such a child the most effective assistance available. Some doctors establish vision therapy programs in the office; other programs are "home centered" with exercises demonstrated in the office and assigned as homework.

Sports vision—You can expand your practice while helping sports participants improve their performances and reduce the risk of injuries. Add sports-related questions to your history form, dispense ophthalmic materials suitable for athletic wear, encourage the use of protective eyewear designed for specific sports and provide vision therapy for athletes.

Low-vision—You can help low-vision patients by providing simple visual aids at an early stage, includinghigh-powered lenses, hand-held magnifiers, stand magnifiers and telescopes. For a complete guide on low vision, click here.

Nursing-home services—Doctors of optometry are the major providers of primary vision care services to nursing home residents. You may decide to provide services in nursing homes once every other week, or to make nursing homes a large part of your practice. Doctors who consult at nursing homes say that the rewards are financial, professional and emotional.

Long-term care patients—Assessments and examinations could be offered at facilities that may house the mentally ill, those in juvenile detention, group homes, children’s homes and other facilities that may be unique to your community.

Home-care patients—If you have the time and are willing to make house calls, you can build an important addition to your practice.

Hospital patients—As licensed practitioners who provide care independently, optometrists are eligible for hospital clinical privileges. The optometrist’s role may vary among different hospital sizes and types of patients.

Pediatric services: school-age children—You can serve schools as a consultant for the visual and perceptual development of children, as a member of a school advisory team, in cooperation with educators in research and study projects and by conducting in-service workshops, seminars and forums for educators and school psychologists concerning the important role vision plays in learning.

Pediatric services: preschool children—Offer your services as a consultant to public and private kindergartens, nursery schools and day care centers. Prepare a course for parents on the importance of having regularly scheduled comprehensive eye exams for their children.

Industrial workers—Smaller companies usually depend on local practitioners. You can establish a program to determine the current visual abilities of their employees, to uphold the visual requirements of the job for which their safety glasses are used and to conduct professional fittings of protective-corrective eyewear and more.

Union members—Unions often require the services of an doctors for part-time clinical work, and usually provide the office space and purchase the needed equipment.

Office workers—Assist with video display terminal (VDT) related vision problems by distributing optometric and VDT-related information within your office and community. Offer to speak on the subject at local business club meetings.

Other types of professions—You can offer vision education and giving presentations to hunters, pilots, police and firefighters. You also can increase your practice through contacts with health classes, government agencies, business groups and driver training schools.

Expanding contact lens services—Stay on the leading edge of new developments with contact lens, incorporating the latest products into your practice and accommodating the widest possible range of patient needs. The AOA offers membership in its Contact Lens and Cornea Section to provide you with timely clinical education, physician resources and guidance on contact lenses.

Expanding your role in primary health care—Your practice is a critical link between the public and vast network of health care specialists. As a first-contact primary care service, you can help improve the public’s health by expanding your services to include additional assessments covering a broad range of needs.

Screening for hypertension—By adding a blood pressure check to your examination routine, you can be an effective force in detecting unidentified cases of high blood pressure and directing patients to the proper health care channels.

Screening for diabetes—Diabetes has many ocular manifestations and detectable symptoms often include a change in refraction. Screening such patients could help detect previously undiagnosed diabetes in its early stages. The American Diabetes Association is an authoritative source of information, training and supplies.

Expanding sources of referral—Utilize current patients and other health care providers to create a network of referrals to your practice. Even other doctors of optometry can conduct complete referrals or suggest your practice for consultation.

Career Options


Doctors of optometry have countless career options, including group and independent practice as well as corporate and retail.


Academic Timeline


Learn how to best begin your career in optometry by becoming an associate or partner in an established practice.


Managing Your Classes


How the AOA can help by highlighting career opportunities, assisting with day-to-day operations and more.