Optometry is one of the fastest-growing healthcare careers, and because of the aging of the baby boomer population, the need for optometrists who specialize in vision care for older adults is becoming particularly urgent.
According to the American Optometric Association:
Since the start of the century, the percentage of Americans aged 65 or older has more than tripled (4.1% in 1900; 12.7% in 1997), and the number of older Americans has increased more than 10 fold from 3.1 million to 34.1 million. By 2030, it is projected that there will be nearly 70 million people age 65 or more living in the United States, twice the number than in 1997. The older population is not only growing, it is also aging. When compared to the older population in 1900, the number of people age 85 or older is 31 times greater. This growth is further highlighted by a 16 fold increase in the 75-to-84 age group and an 8 times increase in the population aged 65-74.
Excellent vision care is a key element in helping the aging population maintain an independent lifestyle. An optometrist specializing in geriatric care must develop skills that include management of degenerative eye disease, rehabilitation of impaired visual functions, assessment of psychosocial dysfunction, and interdisciplinary health team participation. The rapid development of technology with lasers, medication, and instrumentation not only guarantees that the scope of a geriatric optometrist's job will expand, but also means an opportunity for people entering the profession to be on the vanguard of care
A one-year post-graduate clinical residency is required for this specialty.