Trends in Optometric Practice

Doctor Standing Outside A Hospital

In the Fall of 2015, the American Board of Optometry conducted a job task analysis (also known as a practice analysis), which is the basis for development of a content-valid certification examination. In accordance with best practices, the American Board of Optometry conducts a new JTA every 5 years to ensure that the content of its certification examination is current and relevant to the profession.

Comparing the results of this recent JTA to the JTA that was conducted in 2010 provides a snapshot of the evolution of optometry over the past 5 years. The most significant change reflected in the demographic data that was collected is the increase in the number of females in the profession, as we wrote about in our last newsletter. Click here to view previous article.

In the past, it was predicted that an influx of females into the profession would translate into a greater percentage of employed optometrists. So it is interesting to note that the ratio of self-employed to employed optometrists in our survey remained constant, despite a 7.5% increase in females over that 5-year span.

2010 2015
Self-employed 57% 57%
Employed 43% 43%

The overwhelming majority of self-employed optometrists own their own practice; a minority are lessees/franchisees or independent contractors. These numbers also remained relatively constant over the 5-year span.

Self-employed ODs 2010 2015
Practice owner 81.7% 83.6%
Lessee/franchise 7.9% 7.5%
Independent contractor 8.6% 8.9%


Employed optometrists work in a variety of settings. The largest employee category is an independent optometrist or optometry group, and this category increased significantly in the 2015 survey. This may be an artifact of the survey, but it will be interesting to see if this upturn continues on future JTAs.

Employed ODs 2010 2015
Non-affiliated* optomeist(s) 22.1% 38.7%
Affiliated* optometrist(s) 9.2% 9.9%
Ophthalmologist(s) 21.2% 21.1%
Hospital/clinic/HMO 16.6% 10.6%
Educational institution 15.7% 1.8%
Veteran’s Administration 5.5% 9.9%

*Affiliated with national or regional optical company