Ophthalmic Medical Technician

Certified Ophthalmic Assistant, Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technician   More Names
Certified Ophthalmic Technician, Certified Ophthalmic Technician with Surgical Assisting, Certified Ophthalmic Technician-Surgical Assistant (COT-SA), Certified Retinal Angiographer, Medical Technician, Ocular Care Technician, Ophthalmic Aide, Ophthalmic Assistant, Ophthalmic Medical Assistant, Ophthalmic Medical Technician, Ophthalmic Medical Technicians, Ophthalmic Photographer, Ophthalmic Technician, Ophthalmology Assistant, Ophthalmology Technician, Optometric Technician, Paraoptometric, Retinal Angiographer, Surgical Coordinator

Assist eye doctors (ophthalmologists) in providing patient care by performing certain preparatory and clinical tasks, which often include taking medical histories, measuring and recording vision, testing eye muscles, and preparing patients to see the eye doctor.

Under the direction of the eye doctor and as permitted by state law, ophthalmic medical technicians additionally may administer topical and oral medications, assist during minor eye surgery, and perform other tasks as directed and consistent with sound medical practice, such as use of computerized ophthalmic equipment. They also help instruct patients about proper eye care after an operation and in the personal care of eyeglasses and contact lenses; care for, maintain, and sterilize surgical instruments; and assist in maintaining ophthalmic equipment and instruments.

Ophthalmic medical technicians are employed by ophthalmologists and work primarily in their offices or in hospitals that perform eye surgery. They are trained technicians who help eye doctors provide medical care to patients, including surgery, who have a wide-range of eye problems. Ophthalmic medical technicians often are aided in their work tasks performance by ophthalmic assistants, who typically have less training and responsibilities. In turn, ophthalmic medical technicians work in support of ophthalmic medical technologists, who are expected to perform at a higher level of expertise and exercise more clinical skill in the performance of their delegated tasks.

Together the ophthalmic assistant, ophthalmic medical technician, and ophthalmic medical technologist all work under the direction and in support of the ophthalmologist, who is a medical doctor (MD) specializing in all aspects of eye care, including diagnosis, management, and surgery of ocular diseases and disorders.

Ophthalmologists are required to have a full medical education, followed by extensive clinical and surgical training in ophthalmology, including thousands of hours devoted to the care and treatment of sick patients. This is the reason many ophthalmologists refer to themselves as "Eye M.D.s" or "eye doctors". They also routinely carry out many of the same tasks as optometrists and - although there are almost twice as many practicing optometrists - about one quarter of the nation's refractions and eye examinations are performed by eye doctors according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The ophthalmic assistant, ophthalmic medical technician, and ophthalmic medical technologist are each skilled professionals, qualified by their clinical ophthalmic training to perform ophthalmic procedures under the direction or supervision of a licensed ophthalmologist who is responsible for their performance.

These three ophthalmic support careers also provide a career ladder progression in the eye care field for someone who with little or no formal training at the start may advance through a combination of practical experience and formal education. In particular, the next step for a motivated ophthalmic medical technician can be advancement to the ophthalmic medical technologist career.

Credentials Needed: Ophthalmic medical technicians are not required to be state licensed or registered, however voluntary industry-based skill certification is available in support of this occupation.

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) sponsors the voluntary Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) credential and offers three options to earn it: (1) graduation form a CoA-OMP accredited program for Ophthalmic Technicians and no work experience; (2) current certification as a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) and at least one year of full-time work experience; or (3) full-time employment for at least one year as a Certified Orthoptist (CO) under ophthalmologic supervision. The JCAHPO also offers the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) credential as an entry-level first step certification for those who start out on an ophthalmic career pathway as an ophthalmic assistant.

The JCAHPO website at lists fee and other additional information for the COT certificate. The JCAHPO is the primary education training accrediting and industry-based certification organization in the field of ophthalmic medical assisting. This field includes ophthalmic medical assistants, ophthalmic medical technicians, and ophthalmic medical technologists.

Some Key Things to Remember: Ophthalmic medical technicians - along with ophthalmic assistants and ophthalmic medical technologists -help ophthalmologists in providing eye care for patients. They perform delegated tasks, collect data, administer treatments ordered by an ophthalmologist, and supervise patients. Ophthalmic medical technicians are not required to be state licensed or registered; voluntary industry-based skill certification is available.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
25% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $29,170 - $43,400    Hourly: $14 - $21
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

25% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $29,170 - $43,400

Hourly: $14 - $21