Ophthalmology Technician Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an ophthalmology technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education programs, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Ophthalmology technicians administer eye exams and medications to assist patients with eye disease. They also provide patients with instructions in the proper use of corrective lenses. An associate's degree or certification is required.

Essential Information

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the eye. Ophthalmology technicians, also referred to as 'ophthalmic technicians', provide assistance to ophthalmologists performing eye care. Their duties include conducting diagnostic tests, sending and retrieving lab work, helping during eye exams and aiding during surgery. Completion of a formal education and voluntary certification are common for getting into this career.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree
Other Requirements Certified Ophthalmic Technician credential (voluntary)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% for ophthalmic medical technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $35,350 for ophthalmic medical assistants**

Sources: *ONetOnline; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Required Education for Ophthalmology Technicians

To become an ophthalmology technician, a candidate must earn a certificate or degree in the field. A number of colleges and universities throughout the U.S. offer ophthalmology technician education programs that typically run 1-2 years.

Associate's Degree Programs

Students enrolled in a 2-year ophthalmology technician associate's degree program receive in-depth instruction on taking patient histories, taking eye measurements, explaining medical procedures to patients, performing eye evaluations and running diagnostic tests. They also learn to administer eye medication and inform patients about proper contact lens usage. Courses can include ocular anatomy and physiology, refractometry, patient services, pharmacology, light-based imagery, optics and surgical assisting. This program also includes clinical externships for students to gain hands-on training in the field.

Certificate Programs

Students can also choose to complete a 1-year certificate program. Like the associate's degree programs, these programs include basic math and science instruction and also teach the basic skills needed for patient care. Specific courses may include lensometry, tonometry, clinical optics, contact lenses, visual fields, instrument maintenance and ocular motility. The certificate programs for ophthalmology technicians also require clinical training and the completion of a final examination.

Certification

After earning an ophthalmology technician certificate or degree, candidates may take the certification exam administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (www.jcahpo.org). This test covers medications, systemic illness, ocular dressings and shields, spectacle principles, evaluation of pupils, color vision testing and ocular emergencies. Although certification - which grants the designation Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) - is voluntary, it is recommended and may increase job prospects.

Ophthalmology technicians perform a range of tasks to assist patients with various eye diseases. They administer eye exams, complete documentation, and instruct patients, to ensure proper eye care procedures are followed. Ophthalmology technicians must possess an associate's degree or certification.

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