Ophthalmic Technologist

Ophthalmic Medical Technologist

In the grouping of ophthalmic medical personnel, ophthalmic medical technologists are the top tier. They’re definitely not close to being at an entry level position, but one that is gained through promotion after a few years of hands-on training, or through taking one of the few academic programs available. Ophthalmic medical technologist can perform all the duties of ophthalmic assistants and ophthalmic technicians. This means their role can pertain to taking patient medical history, instructing patients on procedures or medications, taking basic tests on visual acuity, lensometry, and tonometry, as well as administering drugs. Ophthalmic medical technologists also see an increase in administrative responsibilities, with leadership roles over ophthalmic medical personnel and more patient interaction.

With their advanced knowledge and years of training, ophthalmic medical technologists are in charge of taking care of more detailed tasks by ophthalmologists, due to the trust level. They also assist with minor surgical procedures and are required to understand aseptic techniques and instrument preparation. Improved knowledge in areas including ocular mobility, color vision, visual fields, digital imaging, and tonometry allow ophthalmic medical technologists to complete special duties. This extra training allows ophthalmic medical technologists to help in cases of glaucoma and low vision, test color vision for amblyopia, create ophthalmic imaging, and calculate basic corrections for refractive errors. They should also already be exposed to anesthetics, mydriatics and cycloplegics, miotics, and other drugs used in ophthalmology.

What Ophthalmic Medical Technologists Don’t Do

Even though ophthalmic medical technologists are entrusted with more duties that free up time for ophthalmologists, they are not properly educated, trained, or licensed to provide diagnosis, treatment plans, or surgical procedures by themselves. They are not allowed to provide medication or perform their own visual tests without supervision or guidance from an ophthalmologist. There is a line that they cannot cross in order to stay within the guidelines of certain rules and regulations, which prevents possible harm to patients and problems to the ophthalmologist they work for.

Certification, Training, Education

The majority of ophthalmic medical technologists are promoted to the position after years of experience as ophthalmic assistants and technologists. However, there are a few 2 year programs that offer a degree or certificate as an ophthalmic medical technologist. These are generally designed with education and hands-on training in clinical settings, and may include an externship at an ophthalmologist office. Although certification is not a requirement to hold the position of ophthalmic medical technologist, those that are have recognition of their experience, education, and skill level. Certification is offered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, and those who meet the requirements and pass the exam can become certified ophthalmic medical technologists.

Ophthalmic Medical Technologist Salary and Work Area

The work area for ophthalmic medical technologists can vary depending on the facility, and many who work in private offices, work with an ophthalmologist. In bigger office settings, they may be more exposed to leadership and supervisor roles over other ophthalmic medical personnel. They can also work in hospitals, clinics, outpatient centers, and surgical centers by assisting ophthalmologists or working with advanced ophthalmic equipment. There are more expectations for ophthalmic medical technologists, so they can expect to deal with both individuals who are higher above them and lower than them in job rank. Ophthalmic medical technologists are highly trained and experienced and usually earn the highest amongst the other two. Those who help out in surgical procedures or assume more administrative and supervision duties can make more. Ophthalmic medical technologist salaries can range anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000, depending on their specific role for the employer.

Advancement for Ophthalmic Medical Technologists

Ophthalmic medical technologists are at the top tier for ophthalmic medical personnel, but can still advance to other positions. Some individuals continue their education to become optometrists, ophthalmologists, or other high paying career. Others may choose to increase their certifications in other subjects and become supervisors, office managers, and other management positions with other employers. There are also possibilities in research, or joining the educator staff at a college or university. Consulting jobs are also open to ophthalmic medical technologists because of their experience in more advanced areas and instrumentation. Ophthalmic suppliers for drugs, diagnostic equipment, surgical tools, and other necessities look for experienced ophthalmic medical personnel to join their team.

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