Optometric technician programs might focus on customer service and teaching students how to perform preliminary vision tests and work successfully with optometrists. Students will be taught how to provide a professional atmosphere for patients by explaining basic optometric processes, answering vision care questions and providing assistance with sales of optometric products. Voluntary certification is also available for those seeking better job opportunities.
The program levels available are certificate and associate's degree programs. Optometrist technology program fields include optometric or vision care technology. Some programs include hands-on lab work.
Certificate Programs in Optometrics
Students in this 1-2 semester certificate program learn such skills as optical dispensing and lens alteration, interacting with patients and preparing the professional workspace for the optometrist. Programs combine traditional courses with optometric labs that provide hands-on experience with equipment and materials. Common courses include:
- Eye anatomy and physiology
- Geometric optics
- Ophthalmic care techniques
- Optometric lens dispensing
- Contact lenses basics
Associate's Degree in Optometrist Technology
Advanced optometric technician positions may require candidates to have an associate's degree in optometric or vision care technology. These degree programs provide students with an advanced understanding of optical and ophthalmic practices and concepts. Students learn advanced responsibilities, such as lens selection, orientation and mounting. Optometric technology associate's degree programs include courses in:
- Ophthalmic procedures
- Advanced dispensing concepts
- Clinical optometric labs
- Eye care and emergency prevention
- Lens surfacing and finishing
- Optometry office procedures
Continuing Education Information
Certification is available from the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contacts Lens Examiners (NCLE). Although certification is voluntary, a survey conducted by the ABO (www.abo-ncle.org) discovered that employers generally give employment preferences and higher salaries to technicians with certification. To become certified by the ABO, technicians must pass the National Opticianry Competency Examination, which addresses eyeglasses and lenses. Certification from the NCLE is obtained by passing the Contact Lens Registry Examination. These tests are offered twice a year in locations throughout the country.
Advanced ABO and NCLE certification is available for optometric technicians with several years of experience. To obtain advanced certification, optometric technicians must pass a formal training program and a highly technical optometric exam. A master certificate is also available for optometric technicians who complete a 2,000-word thesis project on an opticianry topic.
Optometric technicians interested in professional development can find a wealth of information from the American Optometric Association. The AOA offers information for paraoptometric professionals, which includes optometric technicians, assistants and related personnel. Optometric technicians can find continuing education, training and industry news resources from the AOA's website (www.aoa.org). Membership to the AOA provides even greater access to resources, including two newsletters - AOA News and AOA NewsLetter - and Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association, published monthly. Members of AOA also receive discounts on continuing education products.
Students who want to work in the optometry field as optometric technicians can pursue a certificate or associate's degree program. Upon graduation, certification is available to students through two different board organizations.