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Optometry Assistant Programs

Ophthalmology and Optometry Assistant Programs

Vision is a key part of maintaining your health and quality of life. Regular vision checkups and exams can catch issues early and ensure that patients have the contacts or glasses they need to see clearly.

Ophthalmologists rely on their assistants to get medical information, provide patient education, process test results, and set up for each appointment.

When you become an optical technician, you can prepare patients for tests and procedures, schedule patient appointments, perform certain vision and diagnostic exams, and ensure that information is properly processed.

Learn how to become an ophthalmology assistant and contact training programs near you.

Optical Tech Program Information

The program you choose determines which optical technician school requirements you must follow, which clinical experiences you get, and how much preparation you get for your new career.

Across the United States, there are three main options for ophthalmologist assistant education and training.

The two shorter options are diploma programs and certificate programs. Program lengths are set by each school, but you may be able to graduate in less than a year.

If you earn an Associate’s degree, you earn at least 60 credits over a period of two years. The main difference between the first option and the second option is general education. Associate’s degree students do have to take general education courses, while certificate and diploma students typically only take ophthalmology courses.

Courses Offered in Optical Tech Education Programs

  • Ocular Anatomy and Physiology
  • Diseases of the Eye
  • Ophthalmic Clinical Processes
  • Ophthalmic Optics and Refractometry
  • Medical Terminology
  • Ophthalmic Pharmacology
  • Clinical Procedures
  • Ophthalmic Patient Care

Clinical work is a very important part of your education. At the majority of schools, optometry assistant education requirements include several hundred hours of clinical work. While under the supervision of an instructor and a licensed ophthalmologist, you practice your skills on patients. You can then use instructors’ feedback to improve your technique and make patients more comfortable.

Licensing and 2017 Job Outlook for Optical Technicians

The next step is up to you. In some states, you do not need certification to work as an ophthalmology assistant. In these states, you typically have to be supervised and trained by the managing ophthalmologist.

However, even if certification is not a requirement in your state, it can still be beneficial to your career. It shows that you meet core educational requirements and have the clinical skills needed to work effectively in ophthalmology settings.

Through the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, you can apply to become a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant. You may move up through the certification levels over several years. A1 requires graduation from an approved program in the last 12 months, A2 requires 500 hours of work in the past 12 months, and A3 requires 1,000 hours of work in the past 12 months.

Demand for ophthalmic assistants is growing rapidly across the country. Between 2014 and 2024, BLS anticipates a 10% increase in job openings for ophthalmic assistants (2017).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in 2017 that ophthalmic assistants earn an average income of $36,690 per year. Your income may vary, depending on whether you work in a chain eye care clinic, a privately owned clinic, or a specialty department in a larger healthcare facility.

Take the first step toward becoming an optometry tech now by requesting information from optical technician programs.