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NOC Code: NOC Code: 3121 Occupation: Optometrists
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Optometrists examine eyes, prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses and recommend treatments such as exercises to correct vision problems or ocular disorders. They work in private practice, clinics and community health centres. Optometrists examine eyes, prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses and recommend treatments such as exercises to correct vision problems or ocular disorders. They work in private practice, clinics and community health centres.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3 4
Writing Writing 1 2 3 4 5
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3 4
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3 4
Money Math Money Math 1 2 3
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3 4
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2 3
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2 3
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2 3
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3 4
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3


  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.


Reading Text
  • Read product descriptions from contact lens manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and optical laboratories to stay informed about new products. For example, read brochures about anti-glare and anti-scratch contact lenses. (2)
  • Read instructions, warnings and other text on the labels of products such as contact lenses. (2)
  • Read users' manuals when experiencing difficulties with diagnostic or office equipment. Skim sections that you think will help you fix the equipment. (2)
  • Read email from colleagues, suppliers and patients. For example, read email from other optometrists about continuing education events, and from suppliers informing them about optometry equipment features. (2)
  • Read short reports from family physicians and specialists to whom you have referred patients for information on patients' general health, test results, diagnoses, medications, prognoses, recommended treatments and follow-up plans. (3)
  • Read short articles in professional association newsletters to find out about topics such as continuing education opportunities and insurance coverage. (3)
  • Read notes and comments on patients' history, intake and assessment forms. Review patients' health histories, clinical notes, test results, prescriptions and treatment programs prior to and during appointments. (3)
  • Read optometry legislation, regulations and standards. For example, read Canadian Association of Optometrists' policy statements and International Organization for Standardization 9001 protocols to keep abreast of professional regulations and standards and apply them to patient care. (3)
  • Read optometry, ophthalmology and medical textbooks, such as the Merck Manual, Wills Eye Manual and the Textbook of Internal Medicine to learn about medical conditions and eye diseases, search for treatment alternatives and identify eye care procedures for uncommon cases. For example, optometrists may research multiple sclerosis to understand the effects of this condition on the eyes and on visual acuity. (4)
  • Read articles in optometric journals such as Review of Optometry, The Canadian Journal of Optometry and The American Journal of Ophthalmology to learn about new optometry research, eye health trends, new procedures and treatments. Considerable background knowledge is required to integrate the learning and apply it to patient care. (4)
  • Read pathology, optometry and drug reference manuals such as the Atlas of Clinical Ophthalmology and Compendium of Pharmaceutical Specialties to confirm diagnoses, ensure the correctness of prescriptions and identify the potential side effects of medications. (4)
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Writing
  • Write clinical notes on patients' intake and assessment forms to record concerns, health histories, clinical observations, visual acuity test results, diagnoses, treatment plans and recommendations for follow-up. (2)
  • Write email to colleagues, suppliers and patients. For example, write short messages to colleagues on professional issues such as legislation, and queries to suppliers about products such as contact lenses. (2)
  • Write short instructions for patients. For example, write instructions for eye drop administration and treatment procedures for eye infections. (2)
  • Write reports to insurance companies, government agencies and schools describing how patients' conditions affect their ability to read, work and drive. Explain patients' eye conditions, detail vision restrictions and impairments, and make recommendations such as appropriate seating arrangements for visually impaired students. (3)
  • Write letters to other health professionals such as ophthalmologists and family physicians to request consultation and follow-up for specific cases or to inform of findings and observations. Detail patients' cases, diagnoses and services requested. Optometrists must be concise and present all necessary medical information to allow appropriate actions and follow-up. (4)
  • Write research articles for peer reviewed scientific journals such as the Canadian Journal of Optometry. For example, present findings from studies of conditions such as ocular histoplasmosis syndrome. Optometrists require expert clinical knowledge to synthesize study results and the articles must adhere to well-established scientific writing standards. (5)
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Document Use
  • Scan product and equipment labels for a variety of data. For example, read eye drops container labels to identify proper administration procedures and examination equipment labels to identify how to use the equipment. (1)
  • Refer to appointment books to see who is scheduled and what assessments or treatments have to be carried out. (1)
  • Complete and verify the data on claim forms sent to insurance companies and government agencies. For example, verify the types of optometry services performed and enter patients' names, costs of services rendered and visual acuity data on provincial social services and Ontario Health Insurance Plan claim forms. (2)
  • Complete optical prescription forms. Enter data such as patients' prescriptions for each eye including the sphere, cylinder, axis, prism and type of lenses required. (2)
  • Refer to data in tables and lists. For example, use conversion tables to determine required prescriptions when switching patients from eyeglasses to contact lenses. Scan product lists to identify the most appropriate brands of contact lenses to meet patients' needs. Review the water content, oxygen permeability, diameter, available prescription power and care instructions for various brands and types of contact lenses. (3)
  • Take information from graphs. For example, refer to graphs illustrating Morgan's Norms to find out patients' expected lens flexibility. (3)
  • Enter data on intake and assessment forms. Record patients' health histories, diagnoses, clinical observations, eye health and visual acuity test results, recommended treatments and follow-up plans. Mark eye diagrams to indicate patients' fields of vision, types of sight and corneal thickness. (4)
  • Interpret pictures and drawings of the eye in textbooks, journals, manuals and retinal cameras. For example, refer to illustrations of specific eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration to assist with diagnosing and treating patients, and explaining conditions to them. (4)
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Computer Use
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, document number and types of patient assessments to calculate monthly earnings. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, enter patients' contact and procedural data into office management systems and provincial government databases to receive reimbursement for services performed. (2)
  • Use Internet search engines and bookmarks to access optometry resources on research and association websites, search for data on specific eye conditions and locate product data at supplier websites. For example, review websites for information about new products and diagnostic equipment such as biomicroscopes. (2)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, use financial software to monitor business expenses and revenues. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, create slide shows to accompany presentations to other optometrists. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, write referral letters to specialists and family physicians, and reports to government and insurance agencies. (2)
  • Use computer and software applications. For example, use computerized optometry equipment such as keratometers, phoropters, tonometers, visual field instruments and digital cameras to assess patients' visual acuity and eye health. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, use email programs to communicate with colleagues, suppliers and patients. Attach documents on professional development issues to colleagues. (2)
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Oral Communication
  • Interact with support staff to assign daily tasks, discuss work schedules, resolve conflicts and provide direction. For example, optometrists may instruct staff about scheduling follow-up appointments, ordering contact lenses and selecting eyeglass frames that best suit patients' prescriptions and lifestyles. (2)
  • Interact with suppliers to learn about new products and equipment and negotiate product prices and discounts. For example, negotiate the trade-in value of existing diagnostic equipment when purchasing new ones. (2)
  • Interact with patients during eye examinations. Explain diagnoses and discuss the pros and cons of various treatment options. During optometric testing, question patients about their lifestyles, general health status, medical history, occupations and hobbies to recommend the most appropriate types of glasses or contact lenses. Optometrists must reassure patients who are apprehensive, restless, upset or feel uncomfortable with the level of physical closeness required for most examinations. (2)
  • Communicate with health professionals such as family physicians and ophthalmologists to discuss specific cases or to request consultations for patients. For example, discuss increases in intraocular pressure with patients' family doctors to determine appropriate treatments and follow-up plans. (3)
  • Ask other optometrists about clinical, professional development, financial and work matters. For example, seek advice on specific cases, discuss changes in optometrist legislation, and discuss business management matters such as marketing and franchising. Optometrists who are not self-employed discuss similar topics with their managers. (3)
  • Make presentations to colleagues and other health professionals at seminars and conferences. For example, present a seminar on recent developments in glaucoma diagnosis and treatment at a provincial optometry association conference. The optometrist synthesizes the latest research and presents the analysis in technical language suitable for specialized audiences. (4)
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Money Math
  • Approve the payment of invoices for equipment such as retinoscopes and transilluminators. Verify amounts and tax calculations on invoices. (2)
  • Prepare invoices and accept payments for services and the purchase of eyeglasses, contact lenses and optometry supplies. Calculate line amounts, sale discounts, sales taxes and totals on invoices presented to patients. (3)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Schedule work hours for clerical staff and appointments for patients. (2)
  • Establish and monitor budgets and assess the profitability of the practices you own. For example, project annual revenues and allocate money for rent on reception suites and treatment rooms, and payroll for a small staff of receptionists and assistants. Monitor monthly and annual income and expenses, and make operational and financial adjustments to ensure adequate profit levels. (3)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Measure patients' visual acuity using the Snellen Chart. Ask patients to identify which lines they can read to assess how well they can see. (1)
  • Take measurements with millimetre rulers. For example, measure the distance between patients' pupils when fitting corrective lenses and the height of bifocal segments for their glasses. (1)
  • Convert between SI and imperial units depending on which units are easier for patients to understand. For example, convert clients' weights from kilograms to pounds and convert the distances between patients' eyes and their computer monitors from centimetres to inches. (2)
  • Take precise measurements using ocular instruments to evaluate the eye and vision systems and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses. For example, measure the size of patients' optical nerves using slit lamp biomicroscopes; document the progression or improvement of eye disorders with retina lenses; measure visual field loss with visual fields testers; measure eye pressure with tonometers; measure eye glasses prescriptions with lensometers; determine eye prescriptions with retinoscopes; measure the curvature of patients' corneas with keratometers to accurately fit contact lenses; and determine lens power with phoropters. (4)
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Data Analysis
  • Control inventories. For example, monitor contact lens sales to make sure you are stocking the best selling brands. (2)
  • Compare patients' test results to norms to establish diagnoses and treatment plans. For example, compare patients' amplitude of accommodation to Morgan's Norms to identify normal lens flexibility at different ages. Compare abnormalities to accepted standards and normal anatomy to diagnose conditions and plan treatments. (2)
  • Interpret research data in optometry journals. For example, assess the efficacy of surgical procedures for reducing intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients by interpreting statistical analyses. (3)
  • Monitor patients' progress by examining data from health histories, clinical notes, prescriptions and treatment program intake and assessment forms. For example, compare ocular measurements from one eye examination to another to identify changes and assess treatment needs. Compare eye pressure measurements to determine if fluctuations are within normal ranges, eye shape measurements to detect complications with contact lenses and the appearance of the optic nerve contours to detect changes that may suggest glaucoma. (3)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the size and position of abnormalities noted during eye examinations. (1)
  • Estimate time. For example, estimate the time required for individual appointments and for complete treatment programs. Consider factors such as patients' age, health and the presence of specific eye conditions. (2)
  • Estimate the costs of treatments and certain types of corrective lenses when patients request this information. (2)
  • Predict when patients will require bifocals by considering their eye health histories and published statistics. (2)
  • Make estimates for business planning purposes. For example, estimate the quantity of products and supplies to order over specific periods. (3)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Optometrists organize routine patient visits within highly structured appointment schedules. They must accommodate tasks such as administrative work, phone calls to family doctors and specialists and look up information during breaks and missed appointments. Optometrists decide how to shuffle or reschedule appointments to deal with emergencies and unusually time-consuming investigations. They determine priority cases and decide how to adjust their schedules to provide efficient and quality patient care. Optometrists may plan schedules for administrative staff and other eye care professionals. Self-employed optometrists take a leading role in setting business goals, developing business strategies and planning the work carried out by their employees. (3)
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Decision Making
  • Set fees charged for examinations considering recommendations provided by provincial optometry associations, the complexity of the examinations, business costs and desired margin. (2)
  • Decide which clinical materials, office supplies and equipment to buy. You frequently purchase or lease expensive new equipment and buy large quantities of supplies. Although you are guided by industry norms and your own experience, investment in new technology and new services may involve considerable risk. (2)
  • Make decisions about optometric methods and tools. For example, follow established protocols and use specialized knowledge to decide which tests to use. Consider best practices, patients' needs, the conditions of their eyes, costs and patients' preferences to select treatment options such as type of lens and degree of magnification. (2)
  • Decide to refer patients to specialists. Consider the urgency and severity of patients' problems and the normal development of their diseases. Failure to refer patients appropriately can have disastrous consequences for them. (3)
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Problem Solving
  • Staff are unhappy or dissatisfied with work schedules and duties. Assess the validity of their complaints and try to accommodate the changes requested without disturbing workflow and disrupting patient care. (2)
  • Team members are lost due to illness, terminations and sudden resignations. For example, when employees depart unexpectedly, self-employed optometrists may assume their departed employees' duties until replacement staff are hired. (2)
  • Face conflicting demands for your time and attention. Assess needs, establish priorities and determine the best approaches to meet patients' needs. For example, optometrists may ask their assistants to conduct screening tests for emergency patients and try to fit them into appointment schedules. If patients' conditions are not urgent, ask support staff to reschedule appointments. (2)
  • You are unable to conduct reliable patient assessments when equipment malfunctions or breaks down. For example, power outages may cause equipment malfunctions that result in inaccurate equipment readouts. Optometrists may contact repair technicians or consult manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that equipment is operating properly before proceeding with further assessments. (3)
  • You have difficulties conducting accurate assessments on children and patients who are restless or upset. Optometrists may ask caregivers to help calm the restless patients or may decide to reschedule the appointments. (3)
  • Treat patients who are uncooperative or have unreasonable demands. Ask for their cooperation, clearly explain treatments and expected outcomes and, in some cases, request assistance from family members. (3)
  • Clients are unhappy with their glasses and contact lenses. For example, some patients may claim they cannot see well with their new glasses or that their contact lenses irritate their eyes. Optometrists schedule follow-up examinations to investigate the causes of the patients' complaints. For adaptation complaints, they may suggest patients continue to use the new glasses or contact lenses. If there are measurement errors, optometrists write new prescriptions for the glasses and contact lenses. (3)
  • Treat patients who have unexplained symptoms or provide information that is inconsistent with optometric test results. Repeat tests to confirm their accuracy, consult the Compendium of Pharmaceutical Specialties to see if patients' medications could cause the unexplained symptoms, consult colleagues or refer patients to their family doctors or specialists to reach reliable diagnoses. (4)
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Finding Information
  • Find information about patients by interviewing them, talking to their caregivers, parents and family physicians, reviewing their files and carrying out various tests and assessments. (2)
  • Find information about new products such as diagnostic equipment and software by searching the Internet, scanning trade publications and talking to colleagues. (2)
  • Find information on eye diseases and specialized topics by reviewing medical and optometry textbooks, reading clinical journals and trade magazines, conferring with colleagues and specialists and attending conferences and seminars. (3)
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Critical Thinking
  • Judge the value of diagnostic equipment and other products. Consider possible improvements in patient care, costs, product life cycles and the potential for return on investment. (2)
  • Judge the suitability of job applicants by considering their education, experience, attitudes and references. (2)
  • Judge the suitability of prescribing contact lenses for particular clients. Reach judgements by gathering information from files and conversations with clients. Also take measurements and may consult parents and caregivers for their opinions. (2)
  • Assess the health and functionality of patients' eyes and the severity of their conditions. Consider patients' case histories, external and internal eye examinations, and tonometry measurements. Also consider the results of vision tests such as retinoscopy and visual acuity. Determine whether patients have glaucoma by measuring the pressure within their eyes, examining the optic nerves of their eyes and measuring their visual fields. Optometrists may evaluate patients' abilities to change focus, perceive colour and depth correctly. They diagnose eye diseases, decide treatment plans and determine the need for consultation with specialists. (3)
  • Assess the appropriateness of glasses for children since many vision problems can be corrected if detected and treated early. Consider the children's ages, the complexity of their problems and the opinions of parents. (3)
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