Ophthalmic Tech

Ophthalmic Technicians

What Ophthalmic Technicians Do

Ophthalmic technicians can be considered the middle tier of ophthalmic medical personnel, as they perform more advanced duties than ophthalmic assistants, but may still be supervised by ophthalmic medical technologists for more advanced situations. Ophthalmic technicians record patient medical history, administer diagnostic test, record visual acuity, maintain ophthalmic and surgical instruments, administer eye medications, and carry out other various tasks to help minimize the time spent by the ophthalmologist. They are exposed to more instruments, both for diagnostic and surgical use, education through dealing with more advanced cases, and sometimes management roles.

Ophthalmic technicians are also trained in ophthalmic instrumentation, which includes phoropters, tonometers, sonographers, and ultrasounds. Lensometry, intermediate tonometry, A-scan biometry, and pachymetry are just a few of the skill sets ophthalmic technicians attain. They also begin training in more advanced roles in ocular motility, drug administration, surgical procedures, ophthalmic imaging, and visual fields. With the extra knowledge and training, ophthalmic technicians also have to increase their patient services, including the explanation of certain surgical procedures, application of ocular dressing, and medication.

What Ophthalmic Technicians Don’t Do

Ophthalmic technicians do have increased roles in supporting ophthalmologists, but the fact remains that they are not trained as extensively or licensed to provide medical diagnosis, treatment without supervision, or perform surgery by themselves. They can administer various medications but cannot prescribe drugs for patients. The line that they can not cross is the one of supporting and following their own medical diagnosis, treatment plan, or other processes without permission or guidelines from an ophthalmologist.

Certification, Training, Education

Ophthalmic technicians can gain training through two methods. One is by obtaining an entry level position as an ophthalmic assistant and getting promoted to the position or by getting the position right from the start. In this method the ophthalmic technician gains the majority of training through the job, self study, and ophthalmologist mentoring.

The other method is to enroll and complete an academic program as an ophthalmic technician, which can result in a certificate or degree. This step provides training through educational classes, labs, and clinical experiences. Some educational programs also offer externships for extra training. Ophthalmic technicians are not required to have a license in order to hold their position, but some employers do require certification. Certification can be obtained by meeting the requirements set by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology, and passing the certified ophthalmic technician exam. Learn more about certified ophthalmic technicians.

Ophthalmic Technician Salary and Work Area

Ophthalmic technicians, like other positions in ophthalmic medical personnel, generally work under ophthalmologists in settings like private practice, hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, surgical centers, and educational institutions. With all these possible settings, they have to deal with a variety of people with varying levels of education and roles. Ophthalmic technicians can make pretty high paying salaries, ranging anywhere from around $26,000 to $70,000 depending on location, experience, and duties. Those working in surgical centers, with duties helping out in surgical procedures, may earn more than those in private practice, so the environment also affects salary.

Advancement for Ophthalmic Technicians

Ophthalmic technicians have lots of flexibility with their career growth, including moving on to become physicians or other highly regarded health positions. Many advance along the ophthalmic medical personnel path and can become office managers or ophthalmic medical technologists, who have advanced training in many aspects ranging from advanced pharmacology to the study of ophthalmic lasers. They can also become certified medical technologists and certified in surgical assisting, ultrasounds, and sonography. Certification for medical technologists from an ophthalmic technician requires 3 years of experience as a certified ophthalmic technician, 12 JCAHPO Group A credits, and passing of the exam. Like other ophthalmic medical personnel, technicians open doors to other areas, as well as with the increased experience. Another opportunity for technicians is to become an orthoptist, which is a career with good pay and high demand, plus advanced standing is offered to those who are certified. Administrative roles at schools, participation in research, and consultation for businesses relating to ophthalmology are all advancement possibilities.

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