Aside from shadowing different eye doctors, upon entering optometry school, I didn’t know any current optometrists or optometry students. Looking back, I wish I had gotten to know a current optometry student. They could have not only answered my questions about applying and what the field is like, but also explained to me what I would truly experience in optometry school… especially all of the math!
I strongly, strongly dislike math. I’ve always felt that way. I’m not sure if I was scarred as a child or what, but whenever I’m asked to do math on the spot, I panic. When questioned about disease or pharmacology or anatomy, I’m able to calmly answer and think my way through each question, but when it comes to math, 2+2 might as well be (2/3)^3+17^2×140000¥|!~€|’.
Much to my dismay, the current optometry school curriculum is heavily math based- especially second year at ICO. This is something that I don’t think many prospective students know. During this time, I strongly considered a change in career paths. I love working with patients and I love the clinical education. Unfortunately, all the classes I was taking focused on creating specific lenses or solving for certain perimeters made me miserable.
Luckily, at the time I was working at a private practice and had the opportunity to sit down with doctors. We discussed a bit more about what optometry was like in the “real world.” I was reassured that the field is really what you make it. If you love the math, then maybe you can get more involved with specialty contact lenses or the optical side of things. If not, you have the option of specializing in the disease; it’s up to you.
So far, I’m glad I was able to ask for advice that encouraged me to stick with it. It’s comforting to know that after school, I can really build my practice around my own interests. My advice for my past self would simply be this: If you’re considering optometry, just be aware of all the math!