Certified Ophthalmic Assistant: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Certified ophthalmic assistants work closely with ophthalmologists, or eye doctors, and are often considered the entry-level profession into an ophthalmology career. Certification is offered through a professional organization, often increasing job opportunities and salary offers.

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Job Description of a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant

Certified ophthalmic assistants aid ophthalmologists by obtaining medical records, performing preliminary eye function testing and explaining to patients about medication or procedures. Ophthalmic assistants generally work closely with an ophthalmologist, gathering patient information necessary to complete a diagnosis. Assistants often see the patient before the ophthalmologist, and is often responsible for preparing the patient for the exam and beginning the examination with standard tests and measurements.


Graduates of an academic degree program or those who have completed the training required by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology may earn a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant designation. Though optional, the certification may assist in acquiring an entry-level position. After obtaining additional training and experience, certified ophthalmic assistants may choose to further a career and earn a higher-level credential as a Certified Ophthalmic Technician or Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist.

Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Duties

Certified ophthalmic assistants perform a variety of supportive tasks in an ophthalmologist's office. While technicians and technologists may be more involved in procedural functions, assistants may be responsible for the following:

  • Gathering medical records and patient information
  • Taking ocular measurements, both anatomical and functional
  • Administering or preparing medications
  • Providing eye care and contact lens information to the patient
  • Maintaining and cleaning ophthalmic instruments
  • Assisting the ophthalmologist in basic procedures

Salary Information for Certified Ophthalmic Assistants

In 2013, PayScale.com cited certified ophthalmic assistants with less than five years of experience earned a median salary of $40,000 per year. In the same year, those without certification reported median annual earnings of $30,507 when experience was not taken into account. Non-certified professionals on the job for five to nine years earned less than certified assistants with the same level of experience, who took home a median salary of approximately $40,3654 annually in December 2013.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics