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Code of Ethics

What is an Optometrist?

An optometrist is a primary care doctor for the eyes who diagnoses and treats diseases and disorders of the eyes as well as related systemic conditions.

Optometrists examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to detect eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; signs of systemic diseases including hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. An eye doctor will also ascertain the patient’s ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, to judge depth and to see color accurately. An optometrist can evaluate patients for surgery and can manage pre- and post-operative care. In addition optometrists can perform minor surgical procedures such as removing foreign objects from the eye and can prescribe medication to treat eye diseases.

An optometrist prescribes eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medications to treat eye diseases as well as perform certain surgical procedures.

Students are required to complete a four-year post-graduate degree program to earn their Doctor of Optometry (O.D.). This includes both classroom and clinical training in geometric, physical, physiological and ophthalmic optics, ocular anatomy, ocular disease, ocular myotology, ocular pharmacology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the vision system, color, form, space, movement and vision perception, design and modification of the visual environment, vision performance and vision screening. Optometric education also includes a thorough study of human anatomy, general pharmacology, general pathology, sensory and perceptual psychology, biochemistry, statistics and epidemiology.

Unique to optometrists is the advanced study of optics, the science of light and vision, and extensive training in lens design, construction, application and fitting.

Optometry Code of Ethics

It shall be the ideal, resolve, and duty of all optometrists:

    • TO KEEP their patients’ eye, vision, and general health paramount at all times;
    • TO RESPECT the rights and dignity of patients regarding their health care decisions;
    • TO ADVISE their patients whenever consultation with, or referral to another optometrist or other health professional is appropriate;
    • TO ENSURE confidentiality and privacy of patients’ protected health and other personal information;
    • TO STRIVE to ensure that all persons have access to eye, vision, and general health care;
    • TO ADVANCE their professional knowledge and proficiency to maintain and expand competence to benefit their patients;
    • TO MAINTAIN their practices in accordance with professional health care standards;
    • TO PROMOTE ethical and cordial relationships with all members of the health care community;
    • TO RECOGNIZE their obligation to protect the health and welfare of society; and
    • TO CONDUCT themselves as exemplary citizens and professionals with honesty, integrity, fairness, kindness and compassion

Adopted by the House of Delegates as: Substantive Motion M-1944-1, June 1944; Modified June 2005; Repealed June 2007. Modified and Adopted as Resolution #1969, June 2007.

The Optometric Oath

With full deliberation I freely and solemnly pledge that: I will practice the art and science of optometry faithfully and conscientiously, and to the fullest scope of my competence. I will uphold and honorably promote by example and action the highest standards, ethics and ideals of my chosen profession and the honor of the degree, Doctor of Optometry, which has been granted me.

I will provide professional care for those who seek my services, with concern, with compassion and with due regard for their human rights and dignity.

I will place the treatment of those who seek my care above personal gain and strive to see that none shall lack for proper care.

I will hold as privileged and inviolable all information entrusted to me in confidence by my patients.

I will advise my patients fully and honestly of all which may serve to restore, maintain or enhance their vision and general health.

I will strive continuously to broaden my knowledge and skills so that my patients may benefit from all new and efficacious means to enhance the care of human vision.

I will share information cordially and unselfishly with my fellow optometrists and other professionals for the benefit of patients and the advancement of human knowledge and welfare. I will do my utmost to serve my community, my country and humankind as a citizen as well as an optometrist.

I hereby commit myself to be steadfast in the performance of this my solemn oath and obligation.

Kandace L. Haines OD, FAAO