The following scholarly paper concentrates only on the supply of optometrists and it is suggested readers draw their own conclusions about whether increases in density of optometrists, caused by increases in optometry graduates, would result in an oversupply of optometrists.
While supply can be quantified, demand requires too many predictions or guesses to be accurately calculated including the degree Federal, state and private insurance plans provide eye and vision care coverage, co-payment amounts, state of the economy and political climate.
The author, Dr. Kenneth Myers provides strong evidence of a current and future oversupply of optometrists. With detailed calculations and charts, he demonstrates the increase in density of optometrists per 100,000 in the U.S. population. He attributes the increase in density to a significant increase in optometry school graduates. The number of graduates has increased from 1127 in 1997 to approximately 1600 in 2014 and will likely reach 1900 by 2018, when all new schools reach full enrollment. Dr. Myers calculates that density has increased from 11.5 per 100,000 in 1997, when it was considered that supply equaled demand, to the current level of 12.8. He acknowledges that local densities vary. The author further projects density peaking at 15-17.
The author cites the Abt, Rand, Project Hope Census Studies and numerous other references listed in the bibliography, but not the recent Lewin Eye Care Workforce Study as his research was completed in advance of the release of the Lewin Study.
Dr. Myers stresses the importance of accurately portraying the current and future oversupply. He describes the potential harm of oversupply to the schools and colleges of optometry and the profession of optometry if the matter continues to be ignored. Dr. Myers expresses concern about the lack of quantitative measures in evaluating new schools for accreditation. He also writes about his concern for the optometry graduate entering a difficult marketplace with high educational debt.
The legal profession ignored the issue of oversupply of lawyers and now is facing the consequences. Only 55% of graduates can find full-time work and applications to law schools continue to decline. The employment crisis and applicant decline show no signs of abating.