Ophthalmic Technician Courses and Classes Overview

Ophthalmic technicians give eye examinations, fit patients with eye lenses and manage patients. Courses for this career are generally taken as part of a full degree program.

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Essential Information

Ophthalmic technician courses are available through technical schools and community colleges, typically leading to an associate's degree. Having a degree is not required to work in this profession as individuals receive on-the-job training, but it can help with career advancement. Students gain an understanding of how the eye works and how to correct vision and treat common eye diseases and injuries. They also learn to use equipment to identify eye problems.

Students gain practical hands-on experience through lab demonstrations in the classroom and clinical practica at an eye doctor's office. Graduates of these programs are prepared for the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology's Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) certification exam.

List of Courses

An associate's degree program in ophthalmic technology may include the following courses.

Office Procedures for Ophthalmic Technicians Course

Ophthalmic Technician courses in office procedures introduce students to recording clinical data, managing patient records and transcribing medical information into charts. Students also practice additional career skills, including interpreting and recording common abbreviations, obtaining ocular histories and performing basic tests to measure visual acuity. Students gain experience using the equipment and maintaining eye exam areas. This course usually includes an overview of medical ethics and client confidentiality practices.

Clinical Optics Course

To perform well in ophthalmic technician courses in clinical optics, students need to have completed prerequisites in medical terminology, ocular anatomy and physiology. In clinical skills courses, students are introduced to basic optical concepts and how they operate in relation to the human eye. Topics covered in these ophthalmic technician courses include prisms, lensometry, retinoscopy and refractometry, techniques used to measure and correct vision. Care of patients with different needs during eye examinations and the use and maintenance of ophthalmic equipment and instruments are emphasized.

Diagnostic Procedures Course

Ophthalmic technician classes in diagnostic procedures build on the students' knowledge of ocular anatomy and clinical optics. Through diagnostic procedure courses, students acquire the skills to perform accurate tests referring to the schematic eye, a model of an ideal or normal eye. Techniques covered in the course include applanation tonometry, which dilates and stains eyes before measuring vision, and biomicroscopy, which utilizes a microscope to examine eye structures and photograph the eye to make lenses. Additional topics covered in these ophthalmic technician courses include principles and techniques for obtaining diagnoses related to color vision and tear functions.

Occular Emergencies and Diseases Course

In addition to discovering how the eye sends messages to the brain, this ophthalmic technician course provides an overview of what happens when the eye develops problems. Professors introduce students to common diseases that are easily remedied and more unusual problems, which can become serious. Courses of this nature go into detail describing ways to identify the disease and discuss possible remedies, including treatment or surgery.

Clinical Practicum Courses

Students in ophthalmic technician classes gain practical experience working with patients and other professionals by completing clinical rotations. They use the labs and equipment under supervision in order to further their skills. Part of the clinical experience includes setting up for surgery and helping as needed. Clinical sessions allow students to demonstrate their ability to use the equipment, conduct basic eye exams and read the test results.

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