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Studies & Degrees in Vision Science

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Vision science is a field that is constantly expanding, and encompasses the study of various aspects of modern biology, neuroscience, physics, optics, bio-engineering, chemistry, psychology, epidemiology, and optometry.

Vision scientists are concerned with research questions like how we see, how and why vision fails, and what can be done about it. Therefore, if you decide to concentrate on this discipline, you will acquire specific knowledge of the eye, vision and its processes, as well as some general science knowledge and transferable skills. As a vision scientist, you can also explore ways to improve contact lens technology; new ways to correct vision (i.e. laser eye surgery); or, you can also study ways to prevent or even reverse blindness. Finally, investigators in Vision Science carry out human and animal research and modeling that often results in cutting-edge discoveries which can be applied in disciplines such as molecular genetics, clinical care, adaptive optics, neurobiology, cell biology, infectious disease, bioengineering, perception, and public health.

Personal Qualities

To be involved in vision science, you need to have a great aptitude for sciences, while also enjoying research and lab work. Some other qualities are:

  • Be dedicated to precision and attention to detail
  • Very good communication skills
  • Excellent analytical qualities, combined with problem-solving skills
  • Able to work individually and as a part of a team
  • Committed to ongoing professional development

Study Options

There are different ways to become a vision scientist. In any case, however, you should first enroll on a general science or related major at the bachelor’s degree level, after which you can decide to specialize in vision sciences. This may happen either from your second year of study, or you can complete a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field, and then head for a master’s in vision sciences.

As with any science-related discipline, it would be a good choice for you to start preparing early from high school by aiming at good academic records in chemistry, biology, and physics. This is because if you enroll in a vision science program, most of your courses will be in the physical and natural sciences. You would be exploring subjects like anatomy, physiology, and biology. All of these will also be focusing on how the eye works, and this includes both studying how the brain and eye communicate and how eyes determine color. Finally, you should also be prepared for studying courses like research methods and statistics.

As you can see, all of the above mentioned disciplines require excellent lab and science facilities, so it would be best for you to research an institution that can provide these to you. Hands-on experience is crucial, and this means that the university should be able to offer excellent practice sessions with the latest technology. This is a field that is constantly developing, for which reason you should also be prepared to do a lot of self-study and research on the subject.

Career Options

Most people with degrees in vision science become researchers and professors, and this typically suggests that you would have completed a doctorate degree in the field. However, you can become an optometrist, too, which involves examining the patient’s eyes for vision problems and diseases both through the use of equipment and charts. Optometrists are the one who prescribe glasses, lenses, and other vision aids. Another profession in the field, which on the other hand does not require a higher level of education, is an optician – opticians help the patients choose glasses, measuring their eyes and nose bridges. Finally, with a degree in vision science you can enter fields like pharmacology, biochemistry or neuroscience, because of the highly transferable science skills you would have attained.