Published in Non-Clinical

The 2022 Optometrist Report

This is editorially independent content
6 min read
See what over 600 optometrists had to say about optometry in 2022, from salary expectations to future innovations.
The 2022 Optometrist Report
Welcome to the 2022 Optometrist Report! Each year, we survey hundreds of optometrists to take the pulse on how today's ODs are approaching their careers, clinical practices, and the changes affecting the industry as a whole.
We ran this survey in October 2022 to get feedback from recent optometry school graduates, early-career professionals, and established clinicians about their career prospects, salaries and debts, and visions of clinical practice.

Download the 2022 Optometrist Report, or keep reading for a sneak preview of our findings!

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In the 2022 Optometrist Report, we cover the following:

  • Optometrist salaries: How much do optometrists make?
  • Student loan debt: How much student loan debt do optometrists have? How long does it take optometrists to pay off their student debt?
  • Optometrist employment: What are the most popular optometry settings? How do optometrists feel about co-management and private equity?
  • Innovations and technology: What are the most exciting new developments in eyecare?
  • The future: How do optometrists feel about the future of optometry?
  • And more!

Who's who in the 2022 Optometrist Report

We surveyed 604 total eyecare practitioners. Of them, 534 were practicing optometrists, 111 were practice owners, and 70 were optometry students. The gender ratio of the last several years of optometry graduates closely reflected the gender split in our respondents, as 71.9% identified as female. Practice owners were evenly split.
Additionally, private practice ownership demonstrated some of the most encouraging trends of the survey. In 2021, a little under half of practice owners were focused on growing the business in their current locations, while another ~20% were looking to hire an associate optometrist. However, in 2022, those numbers have grown, as have the number of practice owners looking to open one or more additional locations.
Now, 52.3% of practice owners want to grow the business in their current location, while another 21.6% are looking to hire. The percentage of practice owners focused on selling their practices or simply remaining on their feet has shrunk substantially.
This echoes the growth from 2020 to 2021 that occurred as practices recovered from the pandemic. It's also a revealing indicator of the continuing importance of private practice ownership in optometry.

The finance question: optometrist salaries, student debt, and new graduates

As always, salary and student debt were juicy topics in this year's survey. Average optometrist salaries dropped 2.5% to $139,200 in 2022. With rising inflation, this might seem like a concerning trend, but we will have to wait and see—after all, last year's data was a substantial increase from 2020's average. We'd be more concerned if salary satisfaction had also dipped, but it's remained steady year over year.
The good news is there was a rise in confidence among optometrists about paying off their student loans. Overall average confidence was 8.34/10 this year, up 5% from last year's 7.93/10.
Building on this positive financial outlook, new graduates have seen a bump in starting salary from last year with two emerging trends. Initial salary has risen yearly from an average of $95,000 to $105,000, along with a significant range expansion not seen in 2021 from $100,000 to $160,000.
We can posit this is partially attributable to the current economic conditions, including inflationary pressures, favorable employee negotiation leverage over employers, and possibly the inclusion of a greater number of residency-trained optometrists in this year's survey (see page 29).

Optometry innovation: bright times ahead

As salaries and confidence rise, so do the numbers of optometrists who say that if they had the chance to do it all over again, they would. Optometrists' feelings about the future of optometry are largely positive at a 7.17/10—up 6.85% from last year's average!
Furthermore, it's reassuring to see that optometrists are still largely happy with their choice of careers. When asked whether they would still choose optometry if they could do it all over again, 77.2% said yes.
When we look at how optometrists feel about newly released innovations in eyecare, it's promising to see that 27.2% described themselves as early adopters. These doctors can have a reciprocal effect on the profession, potentially propelling other optometrists to participate after hearing anecdotal positive patient outcomes.
Consequently, the collective feedback could drive the industry to continuously improve the design and function of point-of-care platforms, devices, and therapeutics.
2023 is just around the corner, and with it will come more innovations, technologies, and improved standards of care. We're excited about these changes and can't wait to see what you do with this information.

To see how we came to these conclusions, download the 2022 Optometrist Report!

Michael S. Cooper, OD
About Michael S. Cooper, OD

Michael S. Cooper, OD is an Optometrist and Past Director of Professional Strategies at Kala Pharmaceuticals in Arlington, MA. He specializes in anterior segment disease where he has treated a variety of conditions including dry eye and lid diseases, allergy, and uveitis. He has produced research, participated on expert ocular surface disease round tables, and lectured domestically and internationally on topics such as corneal disease states, uveitis management, Lyme disease, emerging pathogens, sports-related eye injuries in children, and AMD pedigree relationships. Dr. Cooper is published in journals such as Review of Optometry, Modern Optometry, Cataract and Refractive Surgery Today, Clinical Ophthalmology, Optometry Times, Primary Care Optometry News, and Ophthalmology/Optometric Management. Additionally, he has collaborated with CollaborativeEYE and Eyetube on a variety of digital media segments including “Managing the Surgical Patient” and “Hot Topics”. He has been actively involved in global clinical studies for novel anti-infective therapeutics, evaluating the efficacy of meibomian gland treatment modalities, ocular surface diagnostic validation, and AMD genetic research. Recently, he was been awarded a federal grant to evaluate Diabetes care efficiency across a multispecialty environment in a community health center setting.

Michael S. Cooper, OD
Eleanor Gold, PhD
About Eleanor Gold, PhD

Eleanor Gold is the Editor in Chief at Eyes On Eyecare. She is passionate about science communication and education (particularly in the field of eyecare!), holds a PhD in English from the University at Buffalo, and in her spare time enjoys reading, water sports, and travel.

Eleanor Gold, PhD
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