Name: Lynn M. Seldon
Job Title: Optometrist
Where: Beverly Hills, CA
Years of Experience: 28
Salary: See PayScale's Median Optometrist Salary
Education: BA University of Hartford, 4 years of Optometry School, Internship
If you've ever wondered about how to become an optometrist, career options for optometrists, or the average optometrist salary, this is a story you don't want to miss. Lynn Seldon practices optometry in glamorous Beverly Hills, so she never knows who might walk into her office. From celebs to regular men and women getting eye exams, she's seen it all. In this interview, Lynn describes some of the benefits of becoming an optometrist, including the variety of career options for optometrists, a high optometrist starting salary, and the opportunity to work with great patients. As you'll soon find out, an optometrist's salary is just one reason Kiplinger.com named an optometrist position as one of the 7 great careers for 2007.
Optometrist Job Description:
I perform comprehensive eye exams and fit people for glasses and contact lens. I also do glaucoma testing, dilate the pupil, check the retina; if there is an infection of any kind, I can treat and manage it. Anything that needs more complex treatment we refer to a specialist. if something is very complicated and requires surgical intervention, I refer to and work with LASIK surgeons and retinal surgeons.
How did you decide to pursue an optometrist career?
I was a math major in college. When I went to my family optometrist, he asked me what I was going to do after college and I said, “I’m a math major.” And his reply was, “Are you going to teach?” And I don’t do well in front of large groups of people, so that was not an option. So his recommendation was “Go into optometry, it’s all math.” So I tucked that away in the back of my head. At the end of college when it was time to move on, it interested me and I decided to take the plunge into optometrist schooling. I completed all the requirements to become an optometrist.
What do you like about being an optometrist?
I just love my patients, they’re just great. I like seeing people I have a relationship with on a regular basis, even though sometimes I don’t see them for a year or a two. It’s nice to see people, it’s nice to see their families grow and change. It’s a great field, particularly for a woman. You control your own hours. There are a lot of options for employment, either at a hospital, surgical center or your own private practice. You can work part-time or help people on vacation who need assistance. It’s nice being your own boss, but I think you probably work twice as long and twice as hard.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
I have all sorts of men and women getting eye exams, but children are the most interesting. When they come in to get their eyes examined and get their first pair of glasses, it’s pretty exciting. I watch their facial expressions when they go from 20/100 or 20/200, to 20/20 vision; the look on their face and how astounded they are when they see individual leaves on trees. A lot of kids don’t realize that a tree is not an individual green blob there, that it has individual leaves and detail that they cannot appreciate until they get a pair of glasses. That is rewarding.
What is the most challenging part of being an optometrist?
The elderly are challenging because as we age the body starts to deteriorate and the eye sometimes doesn’t age well, and people have to start wearing glasses in their 40’s. There is the aging of the vitreous, possible floaters, possibility of retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract lens transplant; sometimes having to break news like that is challenging and you try to say it in a gentle and comfortable way so it’s not so alarming.
What is the average optometrist salary?
It’s a really wide range, depending on how many days a week you’re working. The average optometrist salary can range from $100,000 to $500,000. It’s probably more in the west, but for someone starting off, the average salary is $100,000 to $200,000. In private practice, the average salary depends upon whether you’re opening cold or buying a practice. Most optometrists want to buy someone’s practice so they can start out with a patient base, unless you’re in area that is needy, I suppose you can send out flyers, you would see that mostly outside cities.
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