Make Money in Eye Care

Hi there! Today, I have a post from Kim at Eyes on the Dollar. Kim is a private practice optometrist by day and financial blogger by night. You can follow her on Twitter @Eyesonthedollar. Let me know if you would like to guest post on Make Money Your Way.

We are all looking for ways to make more money. I have been a private practice optometrist for over thirteen years, and I have seen just about every way to make money in the eye care industry. Some ways might be pretty obvious, but I bet there are some relatively easy ones that you might not have considered.


This would be the obvious one. An ophthalmologist is an eye surgeon. An optometrist does vision exams and medical eye treatment that doesn’t require surgery. Both hold a doctorate degree, and you can work for someone else or be your own boss.

The big hurdles are the amount of school and training and the high cost of professional school. You’ll be putting in 8-12 years after high school, and you need very good grades and an interest in science and math. You could also come out owing over six figures in loans if you aren’t careful.

In recent years, there has been some oversaturation of providers in popular areas, like Southern California. However, there is a shortage of providers in some rural areas or in smaller urban areas that aren’t on the coasts. Think very carefully about where you want to live before racking up student loan debt.

Potential starting salary: Optometrist- $80,000 per year. Ophthalmologist-$250,000 per year.


An optician a person who repairs and makes glasses. You don’t need a degree to be an optician, but it would help your job prospects to take a certification course and become licensed.

You have to be a detail oriented person, have good fine motor skills, and be able to deal with difficult patients. You also have to be a salesman because many jobs offer commissions.

Potential Salary-Varies, but my head optician makes $55,000 per year.

Insurance Billing

Medical insurance billing in general is a hot topic these days. Eye care billing is especially difficult because there are insurance codes for routine vision exams and medical eye visits. Billers need to know the difference and how to maximize insurance payments with the least amount of work.

You don’t need a degree, but there are courses online or at community colleges that can help.

You’d need to be very detail oriented and able to speak with insurance companies if necessary. A bonus is the ability to work from home, and you could potentially bill for several different offices.

Potential income- Insurance billers often take a percentage of the total revenues billed, generally 5%-10%. As an example, my small office bills about $20,000 to insurance each month.

 Optical Equipment Repair/Maintenance

In my opinion, this is the hidden gem of making money in eye care. When something breaks in my office, I can’t see patients until it’s fixed. If I can’t see patients, I don’t make money. As a result, I recently paid a repair man $120 per hour to fix my visual fields machine, plus $220 per hour for travel.

Most ophthalmic equipment needs yearly cleaning and maintenance as well. Cleaning generally costs $300 for less than 30 minutes of work. There seems to be almost no one who does this type work, at least in my area, so you pay what is charged without question.

You don’t need a degree, but technical or computer skills are helpful. You can work for an ophthalmic company or be on your own. This job would require travel, paid for by the client, of course. You’d have to apprentice with someone or take courses to get certified, and you’d need to do some marketing to be successful.

Potential income: $120 per hour!

 Cleaning Service

I’ll throw this last one out there for those who are not technical people, aren’t interested in sales, and don’t want to take classes. For me, it has been a huge effort to find quality cleaning people for my office. They all start out great, then, either the quality drops off,  they are irresponsible with office security, or things go missing.

If you are reliable, willing to learn and sign off on patient privacy rules, and don’t mind working in the evening or on weekends, I think there is a bonanza of commercial cleaning jobs in all medical offices, and they really are not that dirty in most cases.

Potential Income: $25-$50 per hour

These are a few of the ways eye care can be profitable. Most of them could apply to any medical industry. Find a need that matches your skills, and fill it. That’s how to Make Money Your Way!