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How to Become a Certified Ophthalmic Photographer

Learn how to become a certified ophthalmic photographer. Research the education requirements, certification information and experience required for starting a career in ophthalmic photography. View article »

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  • 0:00 Certified Ophthalmic…
  • 1:08 Earn An Associate's Degree
  • 1:45 Get Certified
  • 2:39 Gain Work Experience

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Video Transcript

Certified Ophthalmic Photographer

A certified ophthalmic photographer uses highly specialized imaging equipment to take detailed pictures of the eye and its inner structures. These images allow doctors to diagnose, monitor and treat disorders or diseases of the eye.

Like many other ophthalmic technicians, ophthalmic photographers spend at least part of their work day in a sterile, climate-controlled laboratory or hospital environment, generally during regular office hours, taking and developing photographs.

They must have strong customer service skills and be able to work both with a team and independently. They also need knowledge of ICG angiography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, slit-lamp biomicrography and external photography.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, ophthalmic technicians made a mean annual salary of $36,690 as of May 2015.

There are several possible paths to become a certified ophthalmic photographer. Let's explore one of the most common.

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent accepted; associate's or bachelor's degree preferred
Degree Field Ophthalmic technology or photography
Experience 0 to 3 years' experience in photography or retinal work
Certification COT recommended
Key Skills Must be able to work with a team and independently, strong customer service skills
Technical Skills Knowledge of ICG angiography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, slit-lamp biomicrography and external photography

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Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

An accredited ophthalmic technician associate's degree program can provide the education needed to pass the Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) examination. We'll learn more about this exam in the next step.

Coursework in an ophthalmic technician program might cover anatomy, physiology, optics, ophthalmic pharmacology, eye diseases and instrument maintenance. Some schools offer hands-on experience through clinical rotations and lab work. Graduates of an ophthalmic technology associate's degree program are eligible to take the COT exam.

Step 2: Get Certified

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) offers the Certified Ophthalmic Technician certification (COT) program, which proves a technician's competency in a variety of tasks in the eyecare field. Candidates for certification must pass a written multiple-choice exam as well as a skill evaluation. Recertification is necessary every 3 years. Requirements include a fee as well as approved continuing education credits or completion of an exam.

The Ophthalmic Photographers' Society administers the Certified Retinal Angiographer (CRA) and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT-C) programs; some employers prefer applicants with a CRA credential for senior ophthalmic photographer positions. To qualify for either credential's written exam, applicants need to submit work samples that are up to certain standards.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Many ophthalmic photographer positions require that candidates to be COT-certified and have up to 3 years of experience in the field. Job duties might include assisting ophthalmology physicians and nurses, performing photography and diagnostic tests, managing photography equipment and providing patient services. Responsibilities vary depending on the employer and may be highly specialized.

Remember, earning an associate's degree in ophthalmic technology is one way to become an ophthalmic photographer. Becoming a Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) is required by some employers.

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