Seventy-four percent of optometry businesses are owned and operated by males. Historical documents from the 1980s reveal that as more women became optometrists owners were worried that customers would shy away from the female optometrist. There was a very real anxiety of those promoting optometry as a profession that a large contingent of women would compromise the prestige and undermine the legitimacy of optometrists as vision care specialists.  Those concerns certainly haven't become realities. 

"The concern that women would damage the profession has been unfounded," Dr. Carlson [first female president of the American Optometry Association and also first woman to lead the North Dakota Optometric Association] says. "Instead, you see many women in leadership positions at the local, state and national levels. Many women also serve as key persons for advocating for the profession in Washington, D.C." The makeup of the optometric workforce at present is 60 percent male, 40 percent female.


Adapted from


Debbie Maffei, Optometrist

DeWitt, New York 1972






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