What does a Ophthalmic Medical Technician do?

Median Pay $35,250
Growth Rate 13%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

An ophthalmic medical technician works at eye clinics and conducts eye exams, gives eye medications, and educates patients on the right way to wear contacts and also how to care for eye glasses or contacts. Helping with these tasks around the office allows the ophthalmologists to see more patients.

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How to Become an Ophthalmic Medical Technician

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (or JCAHPO) has four levels of certification you can obtain to become an ophthalmic medical technician. The most entry level one is the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA). There are various requirements you must meet to sit for the exam. If you do not have work experience, you must be a high school graduate and attend an accredited certification program. If you do have work experience, the amount of work experience you have will impact how much education you need. Education ranges from completing a few distance education courses to completing one self-study course.

Once you are a certified ophthalmic assistant, you can then become an certified ophthalmic technician (COT), then a certified ophthalmic medical technologist (CMOT). If you wish to continue your education and training, you can continue with your education and become specialized in Ophthalmic Surgical Assisting (OSA).

According to O*NET OnLine, about 30% of ophthalmic medical technicians have a post-secondary certificate and almost 15% hold an associate’s degree. You can review more information from the JCAHPO website (link opens in a new tab).

Job Description of an Ophthalmic Medical Technician

What does an Ophthalmic Medical Technologist do

Ophthalmic medical technicians help at an ophthalmologist’s office and conduct eye exams such as eye pressure tests and tests to determine an individual’s near and distance vision. They will also obtain and document the patient’s medical history for the ophthalmologist’s reference.

These technologists may also apply certain medications as needed. When working with patient’s they may provide additional education to the patient around eye ware care. Most ophthalmic medical technicians work in offices run by an ophthalmologist though a small number do work in surgical hospitals and outpatient care centers.

Health Technician (Optometry) Job Posting

Let’s look at a job description posted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This job announcement is looking for a person to perform the following responsibilities:

Triage

  • Triages patients by phone or in person.
  • Schedules patients as appropriate.
  • Answers questions about spectacle and contact lens prescriptions.
  • Takes messages for staff doctors.
  • Answers questions regarding clinic operations and services.
  • Receives and distributes medical records.
  • Protects patients’ confidentiality according to HIPAA guidelines.
  • Knows when to interrupt the optometrist during examination to convey timely information.
  • Provides information to personnel regarding available optometric services.
  • Interacts via telephone with optical laboratory personnel regarding optical orders.
  • Directs telephone calls pertaining to other medical information to the appropriate department or physician as needed.

Ancillary Testing

  • Takes and records patient/family ocular and systemic medical history.
  • Measures habitual Rx with the manual or automated lensometer.
  • Measures distance and near visual acuity.
  • Measures intraocular pressure with the non-contact tonometer.
  • Performs visual filed testing, corneal tomography, and fundus photography.
  • Applies diagnostic pharmaceuticals as instructed by optometrist.

Administrative

  • Enters and retrieves data from all necessary electronic records systems.
  • Inputs clinical schedule into AHLTA/CPRS, checks-in patients into AHLTA/CPRS and ensures joint registration/eligibility.
  • Records each patient’s screening tests into AHLTA/CPRS encounter upon check-in.
  • Scans or imports digital copies of supplemental test results into AHLTA/CPRS encounters.
  • Documents appointment cancellations and “no shows” on the daily appointment schedule and in the respective medical record.
  • Identifies and resolves End-of-Day (EOD) discrepancies with respective provider.

Fitting/Handling Spectacles/Contact Lenses

  • Adjusts frames and nose-pads on military eyewear for improved function and comfort.
  • Sizes patients for military frames, measures interpupillary distance and segment height.
  • Assists patients in Frame-of-Choice selection as eligible.
  • Trains patients to insert, remove, clean and disinfect contact lenses.
  • Maintains and reorders contact lenses to maintain working stock.

This position was posted to run 02/27/2019 until 03/13/2019 with a salary range of $41,127 to $53,460 per year on USAjobs.gov (link opens in a new tab). USAjobs.gov is an official website of the United States government and part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Ophthalmic Medical Technicians or Technologists Career Video Transcript

When ophthalmic medical technicians or technologists ask to look you in the eye, they really mean it. These professionals assist ophthalmologists (or eye doctors) to provide eye care to patients. Ophthalmic medical technicians and technologists administer eye exams, dispense eye medications, and instruct patients in the care and use of corrective lenses. They take measurements of the eye with highly specialized equipment.

Technologists also train and supervise technicians and assistants, take diagnostic images of patients’ eyes, and may assist with minor surgical procedures. Technicians may measure a patient’s current lenses for accuracy. Working with eyes is delicate work. It takes attention to detail and dexterity. Interpersonal skills are also important, whether comforting an anxious patient or clarifying specifications for lenses.

Generally, these skilled professionals work full-time. Both ophthalmic medical technicians and technologists typically earn an ophthalmic technician certificate, earned in 1-2 years at a community college or professional school, then obtain a certification. When these technicians and technologists see eye to eye with their patients, better vision is in sight.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Ophthalmic Medical Technician.

National Center for O*NET Development. 29-2057.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.