Welcome to the 2023 Optometrist Report! Each year, we survey hundreds of optometrists to take the pulse on how today's ODs are focusing their careers
, managing their practices, and navigating the changes affecting the eyecare community as a whole.
We ran this survey in October 2023 to get feedback from recent optometry school graduates, early-career professionals, and established clinicians about their salaries and debts, practice metrics
, overall involvement, and vision for the future of optometry.
Download the 2023 Optometrist Report here
2023 Optometrist Report
Discover how fellow optometrists feel about various issues currently impacting the eyecare community, such as salaries and debt, practice workflow processes, co-management, innovation in ophthalmic technology, and more!
In the 2023 Optometrist Report, we cover the following:
- Optometrist salaries: How much do optometrists make? And, how satisfied are they with this salary?
- Student loan debt: How much student loan debt do optometrists have? How confident do ODs feel about being able to manage their debt?
- Co-management: How confident are ODs with the co-management process within their practice?
- Involvement: How involved in advocacy efforts are today’s optometrists?
- Innovations and technology: What are the most exciting developments in eyecare? How eager are optometrists to adopt newly released innovations?
- The future: How do optometrists feel about the future of the field?
- And much more!
Who's who in the 2023 Optometrist Report
We surveyed 310 total eyecare practitioners—301 from the US, 7 from Canada, and even 2 from outside the United States. Though respondents came from a variety of practice settings, 49% reported working in private practice, with 73.5% being practice owners, which is only down slightly (5.7%) from last year.
The gender ratio
narrowed in this report; 67% identified as female (as opposed to last year’s 71.9%). This is on par with the gender distribution within the eyecare community.
Salary satisfaction and debt management
Per usual, salary and student debt were particularly hot topics in this year's survey.
Average optometrist salaries
increased 2.3% to $142,409 in 2023, which, though promising, is still not in proportion to the rise in inflation. At $93,813, starting salaries for new graduates were up slightly from last year.
Also a cause for optimism, most optometrists—60%—expect their salary to increase in the coming year. As for satisfaction with their current salary, an encouraging 40% were either “very” or “extremely” satisfied.
The average outstanding student loan debt for optometrists is $72,533. Though a relatively daunting number, it is very reassuring to know that 56% report being “very confident” in their ability to repay their student loans
We can posit this is partially attributable to the prospect of inflation stabilizing in the next 12 to 18 months, cost-of-living adjusted increase in OD salary, and the possibility of debt forgiveness.
Confidence in co-management
With technological advancements continuing to provide a medium for earlier diagnosis, the evolution of microinvasive glaucoma surgeries
(MIGS), and the emergence of advanced drug delivery systems—optometrists and ophthalmologists will likely find themselves collaborating more frequently to ensure optimal patient care.
However, at this point, 45% reported the relationship between the two has remained the same over the past 5 years, with only 9% saying it has significantly improved.
Notwithstanding, feelings on co-management
demonstrated one of the most encouraging trends of the survey. Of note, 55% ranked the quality of the co-management process within their practice as either “positive” or “very positive.”
Involvement and innovation in optometry
To gauge the fervency of practitioners, we looked at both how involved optometrists were in the field and how likely they were to stay abreast of and adopt the latest innovations in the ophthalmic space.
is a cornerstone of continued advancement within the profession, not only in the realms of practice management and patient care but with regard to diversity and inclusion, public health initiatives, and environmental responsibility
Considering this, it was disappointing to find that only 4% said they were “extremely involved” in advocacy efforts, while 34% responded as “not at all involved.”
However, the majority of those surveyed, 57.3%, are members of the American Optometric Association
(AOA), which connects optometrists and offers a multitude of avenues for career development, education, and advocacy.
Perhaps no specialty has seen more evolution than dry eye
, which came in second—only behind myopia management
—as the top new modality. When it comes to adopting these latest innovations in eyecare, most ODs stated they were prone to do so, be it somewhat likely (42%), likely (33%), or very likely (13%).
Moving forward: Eyecare in 2024
In 2023, the eyecare community has seen its fair share of positive and negative moments, with the rash of artificial tear recalls
and corporate leadership changes, as well as significant steps forward from a technological perspective.
The emergence of artificial intelligence
(AI)—including machine learning—and improvements in diagnostic and surgical devices, imaging systems, and electronic health record (EHR) platforms promise to bring both rewards and possibly some challenges in practice.
In addition to the topics mentioned above, this report covers many other areas of interest, including feelings surrounding private equity, utilization of telemedicine, sentiments on companies/manufacturers, and practice workflow preferences.
To the tens of thousands of individuals who will ultimately download this report, we hope this valuable data serves to educate, enlighten, and empower you. We are confident you will find ways to leverage this information to positively impact your practice and patient care.
To see how we came to these conclusions, download the 2023 Optometrist Report!