Ophthalmology Technician Education Requirements

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.

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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.

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