Study Optometry In The UK: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Welcome to our in-depth exploration of the field of optometry. Studying optometry in the UK offers a unique blend of tradition and innovation, and this comprehensive subject guide aims to be your beacon of information as you embark on this exciting journey. From the rich history of optometry education to the cutting-edge advancements in eye care, we’ll provide you with the knowledge and insights you need to make an informed choice for your future.


Table of Contents

What is Optometry?

Optometry is a healthcare profession that focuses on the care of one of our most vital senses – vision. Optometrists, often referred to as optometric or eye care practitioners, are the primary healthcare professionals for eye-related issues. They play a crucial role in assessing, diagnosing, and treating various visual conditions and eye health problems.

Key Aspects of Optometry:

  1. Vision Correction: Optometrists are experts in prescribing and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia.

  2. Eye Examinations: Regular eye examinations are a fundamental part of optometry. Optometrists conduct comprehensive eye exams to evaluate the overall health of the eyes, detect eye diseases, and assess visual acuity.

  3. Disease Detection: Optometrists are trained to identify and manage various eye diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Early detection and intervention are vital in preventing vision loss.

  4. Specialised Care: Some optometrists specialise in areas such as paediatric optometry, low vision, and sports vision. They offer tailored care to meet specific patient needs.

  5. Therapeutic Treatment: Optometrists can prescribe medications to treat certain eye conditions and can provide pre- and post-operative care for eye surgeries, like cataract or refractive surgeries.

Why Study Optometry?

Studying optometry in the UK is an excellent choice for those with a passion for healthcare, an interest in science, and a desire to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. There are several compelling reasons to consider a career in optometry:

1. Fulfilling and Rewarding Career: Optometry offers a deeply fulfilling and rewarding career path. As an optometrist, you’ll play a vital role in enhancing people’s quality of life by improving their vision and maintaining eye health. Your work directly impacts your patients’ ability to see, interact with the world, and enjoy a better quality of life.

2. High Demand for Eye Care: The demand for eye care services continues to grow, making optometry a stable and recession-resistant profession. With an aging population and the increasing use of digital screens, there is a consistent need for optometrists to address vision problems and eye health concerns.

3. Excellent Earning Potential: Optometrists in the UK often enjoy competitive salaries and benefits. As you gain experience and build your reputation, your earning potential can grow significantly.

4. Continuous Learning and Innovation: The field of optometry is dynamic, with constant advancements in technology and treatment options. This means that your career will be intellectually stimulating, and you’ll have opportunities for continuous learning and professional development.

In conclusion, the decision to study optometry in the UK is a choice that promises a fulfilling, stable, and financially rewarding career in the healthcare sector. It’s a field that combines the best of science and patient care, and as an optometrist, you’ll have the privilege of making a positive difference in the lives of countless individuals through the gift of better vision and eye health. If you’re looking for a profession that combines skill, compassion, and the potential for personal and professional growth, optometry is an excellent choice.

Best Universities for Optometry in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

1University of Manchester
2Cardiff University
3Ulster University
4Glasgow Caledonian University
5City, University of London
6Aston University, Birmingham
7Bristol, University of the West of...
8University of Sheffield
9University of Bradford
10University of Plymouth
11University of Liverpool
12University of Hertfordshire
13Anglia Ruskin University
14University of Huddersfield

Entry Requirements for a Optometry Degree

Entry requirements for an optometry degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific course. However, here is a general overview of the typical entry requirements:

1. Academic Qualifications:

  • A-Levels: Most universities require A-level qualifications, and the specific A-level subjects may vary. Biology and Chemistry are commonly required, while Physics and Maths may also be preferred or required by some institutions. Some universities may accept equivalent qualifications like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Scottish Highers.

  • Scottish Highers: In Scotland, Highers in subjects like Biology and Chemistry are often required, along with Advanced Highers.

  • International Baccalaureate (IB): For international students, the IB with appropriate science subjects is often accepted.

2. GCSE Qualifications:

  • You’ll usually need a minimum of five GCSEs (or equivalent) with grades A-C (9-4 in the new grading system), including English, Maths, and often a science subject.

3. Admissions Test:

  • Some universities may require you to take an admissions test, such as the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). The purpose of these tests is to assess your problem-solving, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning skills.

4. English Language Proficiency:

  • For international students, if English is not your first language, you may be required to provide proof of English language proficiency, typically through exams like IELTS or TOEFL.

It’s essential to check the specific entry requirements of the universities you are interested in, as they can vary. Also, note that competition for optometry courses can be quite high, so meeting or exceeding the entry requirements is crucial for successful admission. Be sure to apply well in advance and make sure to carefully follow the application guidelines provided by the universities.

Jobs for Optometry Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  1. Optometrist: This is the most traditional and common career choice for optometry graduates. Optometrists work in various settings, including private practices, optical retail stores, and hospitals. They perform eye exams, prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses, and diagnose and treat common eye conditions.

  2. Specialist Optometrist: Some optometrists choose to specialise in areas such as paediatric optometry (working with children), low vision (helping patients with severe vision impairment), and sports vision (working with athletes to enhance their visual performance).

  3. Research and Development: Optometry graduates can pursue careers in research and development, working for companies that develop new eye care products, technologies, and treatments. This may involve research positions in academia or private industry.

It’s important to note that the field of optometry is continually evolving with advancements in technology and healthcare, which opens up new career prospects. Optometrists can choose to remain general practitioners or specialise in areas that align with their interests and career goals. As a result, optometry graduates have a diverse range of career options to explore, and they can adapt their careers as their interests and expertise develop.

Is there a shortage of Optometrists in the UK?

The 2022 workforce census report reveals that most NHS ophthalmology services need more capacity. Over three-quarters (76%) need more consultants to meet current patient demand, and over half (52%) have found it more challenging to recruit consultants in the last 12 months. 

Salary for Optometry Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 


Topics for Optometry Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of Optometry and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. The Impact of Virtual Reality on Vision: Investigate how prolonged exposure to virtual reality affects visual comfort, eye strain, and accommodative responses. This topic is particularly relevant with the growing popularity of VR technology.

  2. Myopia Control Strategies: Examine the efficacy of various myopia control methods, such as orthokeratology, pharmaceutical interventions, and lifestyle changes, and their impact on slowing the progression of myopia.

  3. Ocular Manifestations of Systemic Diseases: Explore how systemic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disorders can manifest in the eyes and the importance of early detection and management.

  4. Artificial Intelligence in Eye Disease Diagnosis: Investigate the use of AI and machine learning in diagnosing eye diseases and conditions, and assess the accuracy and reliability of AI-based systems compared to traditional methods.

  5. Low Vision Rehabilitation: Assess the effectiveness of low vision rehabilitation programmes in improving the functional vision of patients with severe visual impairment.

These dissertation topics encompass a wide range of areas within optometry and offer opportunities to explore emerging trends, innovative technologies, and issues of significant importance in eye care. Depending on your interests and the available resources, you can select a topic that aligns with your academic and professional goals.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

Apply To A UK University Today!

Speak to us today for free application assistance and education advice. Our expert consultants are more than happy to help!

Subscribe For Our FREE Insider UK Study Advice

Apply To Your Favourite UK University Today!

Speak to us today for free application assistance and education advice. Our expert consultants are more than happy to help!

Scroll to Top