Optometrists' compensation dropped 4.19% between 2007 and 2008, to a median of $122,523 in nominal dollars. But, when adjusted for inflation, O.D.s' salaries actually fell 7.73% to a median of $107,498 in real dollars.

Overall, salary increases for all doctors didn't rise above inflation between 2007 and 2008, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) 2009 Physician Compensation and Production Survey.

Primary care physicians reported a nominal 2% increase in compensation in 2008, to a median of $186,044. But, when adjusted to reflect the 3.8% rise in inflation (based on the U.S. Consumer Price Index), PCPs actually had a drop of 1.73%, to a median of $163,229 in real dollars.

Specialists of all kinds reported a rise in salaries of 2.19%, to a median of $339,738. But, when adjusted, they experienced a salary decrease of 1.59%, to a median of $298,075 in real dollars.
In particular, ophthalmologists had a loss of 4.28% after inflation, to a median of $275,543 in real dollars.

The MGMA survey also found that collections for professional charges were down 6.53% for all specialists in 2008--and down almost 10% when adjusted for inflation. This decline may signal the leading edge of the economic downturn in 2008, demonstrating the trend of patients electing to postpone care, according to MGMA.

This survey was based on the responses of 50,000 non-physician and physician providers in more than 110 specialties.
(Read Review of Optometry's annual Optometric Salary Survey next month.)