An ophthalmic assistant is a person who works with an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to provide patient care by performing many different eye-related clinical functions.
Ophthalmic assistants help ophthalmologists care for patients by taking histories, performing various procedures and tests, and preparing patients to see the doctor. Their work provides the ophthalmologist with important information to help diagnose and treat patients.
An ophthalmic assistant is a person who works alongside an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to provide patient care by performing many different eye-related clinical functions.
Ophthalmic assistants play an important role in patient care by taking histories, performing various procedures and tests, and preparing patients to see the doctor. Their work provides the ophthalmologist with important information to help diagnose and treat patients.
YOU COULD BE AN OPHTHALMIC ASSISTANT
Many ophthalmic assistants are trained and learn on the job. You could be a successful ophthalmic assistant if:
- You have a high school diploma
- You love helping people
- You enjoy science
- You are a good problem solver
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN OPHTHALMIC ASSISTANT
A typical day in the life of an ophthalmic assistant might include these tasks:
- Taking patient medical histories
- Instructing patients about medications, tests, and procedures
- Performing various vision and diagnostic tests
- Assisting ophthalmologists with patient procedures
- Coordinating patient scheduling
- Supervising and training other ophthalmic assistants
Men and women who choose a career in ophthalmic assisting describe many advantages and benefits. They enjoy working in a professional environment with talented and dedicated physicians and technicians. Other benefits include:
Salaries and Work Environment
Ophthalmic assistants earn above-average pay, and their salaries usually increase as they gain experience and training. IJCAHPO’s Salary Study, published in 2020, shows that IJCAHPO Certified Technicians are more productive, more confident in their competencies and satisfied with their wages, earning an average of 17% more than non-certified technicians.
Most ophthalmic practices hire both full- and part-time positions and allow a significant degree of flexibility in work schedules. This is an important benefit of working parents, those pursuing higher education, etc.
Ophthalmic assistants enjoy virtually unlimited job opportunities nationwide and internationally because of their specialized skills. Positions are usually located in hospitals, clinics, university research facilities, private practices, and in the U.S. military. Ophthalmic assistants also have many opportunities for career advancement.
There are many education opportunities available to ophthalmic assistants. The options range from computer-based learning programs to home study courses, regional class sessions, and continuing education conferences.
QUALIFICATIONS AND TRAINING
Basic Skills and Qualifications for an Ophthalmic Assisting Career:
- A commitment to helping people
- Average skills in healthcare science, math, and computers
- Adequate vision and hearing to perform necessary clinical duties
- The ability to learn how to operate ophthalmic equipment
- The ability to obtain knowledge and skills on the job or through educational courses
- Volunteer experience in health care and first aid training is helpful but not necessary
TRAINING AND EDUCATION
Ophthalmic assistants obtain training in one or a combination of ways:
Option 1: Clinical Education
Attend an accredited ophthalmic training program, which includes clinical training. These programs involve course work and clinical experience for IJCAHPO’s three levels of core certification (COA, COT, COMT).
Option 2: Non-Clinical Education
Attend a shorter accredited ophthalmic training program that gives the ability to start earning sooner. These programs provide course work only and give the ability to being your ophthalmic career with a greater knowledge of ophthalmology. Non-clinical programs prepare you for the COA pathway
Option 3: On-the-Job Training
Find one of many local employers who will provide supervised entry-level work experience to prepare you for the COA pathway. This affordable option lets you earn the entire time you are learning!
The International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (IJCAHPO®) is recognized as an international leader in the development and conduct of certification and continuing education programs for ophthalmic medical personnel.
IJCAHPO offers a wide range of certifications for Allied Ophthalmic Personnel whether they are just starting out their career or are a seasoned professional. IJCAHPO certification validates their knowledge, skills, and abilities in specific content areas as Allied Ophthalmic Personnel (AOP). The three levels of certification comprise a solid ladder for progressive career development.
IJCAHPO’s Core Certifications include:
- Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA)
- Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT)
- Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT)
IJCAHPO’s Specialty Certifications include:
- Ophthalmic Surgical Assisting (OSA)
- Certified Diagnostic Ophthalmic Sonographer (CDOS)
- Registered Ophthalmic Ultrasound Biometrist (ROUB)
- Corporate Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (CCOA)
- Ophthalmic Scribe Certification (OSC)
The JCAHPO Education and Research Foundation provides scholarships for those entering the field or for ophthalmic assistants wishing to advance to the next level of certification.
You may also visit IJCAHPO’s Discover Eye Careers Site for more detail career information. This website provides a career video that walks through a day-in-the-life of a technician and additional resources to recruit new AOP. IJCAHPO’s Career Center provides resources such as sample resumes and a job opening board to assist you in your job search.
For more information, contact:
2025 Woodlane Drive
St. Paul, MN 55125
Phone (800) 284-3937
Fax (651) 731-0410
Last updated 10/2022