Throughout the four years of this professional program, you’ll take courses that cover visual optics, visual neurophysiology, and clinical techniques along with the health and diseases of the visual system. In the first two years of the program, you’ll build a base of knowledge in the basic sciences of health, disease, optics and visual sciences, and begin learning clinical techniques. In the upper years, patient contact begins. Advanced courses consist of many hours in the clinics and the study and analyses of diverse case examples.

The program’s fourth year consists of three 4-month terms (one full year, starting immediately after the end of 3rd year; i.e. no summer break). Two of these terms include rotations through the primary and specialty clinics in the School and a week rotation in an optometrist's private practice. Some students elect to spend this rotation in a vision care project in a developing country. One of the terms is spent at a site outside of Waterloo, typically in the USA, Canada, or even Sweden, where you’ll be exposed to patients requiring ocular pharmaceutics and ocular disease management. These experiences allow you to apply your classroom learning in hands-on settings and gain insight into the diverse areas of optometry.

The formal description of the Optometry program is laid out in the Undergraduate Calendar, Optometry section.

Academic standards

In the Optometry program, students need to maintain an overall 60% average as well as a mark of at least 60% in each course of the major subject. In the clinical courses, OPTOM 348A/B, 458, 468, and 478, a mark of at least 70% is considered a passing grade. A student who fails to demonstrate clinical competence as evidenced by a failing grade in a clinical course will not be allowed to continue. All courses in a given year must be successfully completed to proceed to the next year.

Course exemptions

If you’ve taken courses elsewhere that may be equivalent to those taken within our Optometry program, you may only apply for exemption after beginning your studies in the Optometry program.

Course listing

This is an intensive professional program.

The links take you to the descriptions listed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

First year courses

Fall term Winter term
OPTOM 104 Neuroanatomy OPTOM 103 Pathophysiology
OPTOM 105 Medical Microbiology OPTOM 114 Ocular Anatomy and Physiology
OPTOM 106 Geometrical, Ophthalmic, and Visual Optics OPTOM 126 Fundamentals of Visual Optics
OPTOM 108 Histology OPTOM 134 Immunology
OPTOM 109 Visual Perception 1: Perception of Light OPTOM 139 Colour Vision
OPTOM 124 Human Gross Anatomy OPTOM 152 Clinical Techniques 1
OPTOM 148 Clinical Experience 1 OPTOM 150 Optometric Jurisprudence
    OPTOM 158 Clinical Experience 2
    OPTOM 170 Public Health Optometry

Second year courses

Fall term Winter term
OPTOM 215 Systemic Disease OPTOM 219 Visual Perception 2: Monocular and Binocular Visual Processes
OPTOM 216 Ophthalmic Optics 1 OPTOM 246 Ophthalmic Optics 2
OPTOM 231 Introductory Clinical Pharmacology    
OPTOM 243 Neurophysiology of Vision OPTOM 255 Diseases of the Eye 2
OPTOM 245 Diseases of the Eye 1 OPTOM 258 Clinical Experience 4
OPTOM 248 Clinical Experience 3 OPTOM 261 Clinical Ocular Pharmacology
OPTOM 252 Clinical Techniques 2 OPTOM 262 Clinical Techniques 3
    OPTOM 272 Strabismus and Aniseikonia

Third year courses

Fall term Winter term
    OPTOM 342B Case Analysis and Optometric Therapies 2
OPTOM 342A Case Analysis and Optometric Therapies 1 OPTOM 348B Optometry Clinics
OPTOM 346 Ophthalmic Optics 3 OPTOM 360 Professional Ethics & Optometric Communication
OPTOM 347 Contact Lenses 1 OPTOM 365 Ophthalmic Lasers & Refractive Surgery
OPTOM 348A Optometry Clinics OPTOM 367 Contact Lenses 2
OPTOM 375 Diseases of the Eye 3 OPTOM 377 Pediatric Optometry and Learning Disabilities
OPTOM 387 Gerontology and Low Vision OPTOM 380 Practice Management
    OPTOM 385 Clinical Medicine for Optometric Practice

Fourth year courses

Fourth year begins immediately after third year ends (i.e. no summer break). The class is divided into thirds as determined by the students. The groups rotate each term. One of these terms is spent in a 4 month external placement, in a supervised clinic setting where the intern is exposed to ocular pharmaceutics and disease management. Many of these placements are in the USA. The other two terms consist of rotations through the primary and specialty clinics at the School where you will sharpen your patient skills.

Group Spring Term Fall Term Winter Term
1 A) OPTOM 468 - Clinical Clerkship 2 B) OPTOM 458 - Clinical Clerkship 1

C) OPTOM 478 - Optometry Clinics
OPTOM 412 - Case Analysis 3 

OPTOM 477 - Clinical Techniques 4

2 C) ... A) ... B) ...
3 B) ... C) ... A) ...