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How do I Become an Ophthalmic Medical Technician?

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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Ophthalmic medical technicians are medical professionals who work with eye doctors called ophthalmologists. Medical technicians who work in this field assist the ophthalmologists in the field of eye care. Anyone who wants to become an ophthalmic medical technician must first complete specialized training. A person who wants to become an ophthalmic medical technician must exhibit excellent customer service skills, possess in-depth knowledge of ocular health, and work well with other medical professionals.

There are three levels of ophthalmic medical technicians. They include Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA), Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT), and Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT). COAs are entry-level technicians, while COTs are intermediate level assistants. The most advanced level is the COMT. All three positions require that the technicians pass a national certification exam.

A person who wishes to become an ophthalmic medical technician will be responsible for a variety of duties. He or she may be expected to record patient medical histories and teach patients how to insert and care for contacts. Ophthalmic medical technicians may also be required to care for surgical equipment, administer medication to patients, and perform general office duties.

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Ophthalmic medical technician education programs generally last one to two years. Typical courses include classes in anatomy and physiology, eye diseases, anatomy and physiology of the eyes, ophthalmic pharmacology, and ophthalmic surgical procedures. General courses such as psychology, medical terminology, medical ethics, and medical law may also be required. All future technicians must also successfully complete a practicum which involves training with experienced ophthalmic personnel.

Graduating from an accredited ophthalmic medical technician program permits graduates to take the national certification exam. Exams are administered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology. They can then find entry-level positions in the ophthalmology field. Graduates can also pursue further training by taking courses in ultrasound, surgical assisting, poor vision, and ophthalmic photography.

If someone wants to become an ophthalmic medical technician, he or she can expect to work in one of several environments. Medical technicians in this field may work in a private ophthalmologist office or other health care facilities that require the services of an ophthalmologist. A typical workday may include helping patients select eyeglass frames and teaching them how to care for contacts.

Medical technicians who receive further training to become medical technologists may even assist with eye surgery. They perform fluorescence angiography and ophthalmic clinical photography. Medical technologists are also qualified to perform electrophysiological and microbiological procedures. Since they are advanced medical assistants, they may be asked to supervise other ophthalmic medical technicians.

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