Ophthalmic Medical Assistant (Medical Assisting - Eye Care)

The ophthalmic assistant is a healthcare worker who assists an ophthalmologist in providing direct patient care as well as in medical office organization/administration. Duties include taking medical histories, vision testing, lensometry, basic tonometry, and the care and maintenance of equipment used in the clinical setting. Graduates will be qualified to sit for the national certification exam administered by the International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology.

The Ophthalmic Medical Assisting (OPHT) Program is a three-semester program. Students start the program in the Fall Semester and graduate at the end of the Summer Semester, and are awarded a Certificate of Technical Studies in Ophthalmic Medical Assisting.

Students may also qualify to receive an Associate of General Studies degree concurrently. Students should consult with their academic advisor to determine qualification.

Official Program Description in the College Catalog

students practicing on an eye exam machineCareer Benefits

  • Excellent job opportunities
  • Potential for long-term career advancement
  • A career in advanced medical technology
  • Excellent pay and benefits

Program Mission Statement

The mission of the Delgado Community College Ophthalmic Medical Assisting Program is to provide students with both academic and clinical instruction, which will prepare them to function as competent, compassionate, entry-level ophthalmic assistants, who respond professionally and ethically to patients and other members of the healthcare community.

Student Learning Outcomes

outcomes  Program graduates will be able to:
Outcome 1 Develop technical and scientific skills adequate to administer treatment, perform tasks, and collect data as ordered by an ophthalmologist
Outcome 2 Combine medical knowledge about ophthalmic and systemic disease and cognate sciences in patient care 
Outcome 3  Choose interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange and teaming with patients, their families and other health professionals 
Outcome 4  Maximize professionalism, as manifested through a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities, adherence to ethical principles, and sensitivity to a diverse patient population 
Outcome 5  Select community and health services that demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of health care and the ability to effectively call on system resources to provide care that is of optimal value 
Outcome 6  Determine patient care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective for the treatment of ophthalmic health problems and the promotion of health

What Does a Medical Assistant in Eye Care Do?

Ophthalmic medical assistants provide support services to ophthalmologists. The ophthalmic medical assistant is an important member of the eye care team, supplying vital information to the physician who is treating the patient. The duties delegated to ophthalmic medical assistants may include: 

  • Taking a general medical and ophthalmic history
  • Taking basic anatomical and functional measurements
  • Performing diagnostic testing under physician direction
  • Testing ocular functions
  • Verifying eye glass prescriptions
  • Administering topical ophthalmic medications under the direction of the physician
  • Participating in patient education and instruction
  • Caring for and maintaining ophthalmic instruments and equipment
  • Caring for, maintaining, and sterilizing surgical instruments

Program Accreditation

The Ophthalmic Medical Assisting Program is accredited by the International Council of Accreditation (ICA).

International Council of Accreditation Commission
2025 Woodlane Drive
St. Paul, MN 55125-2995
(651) 731-2944

 ICA is sponsored by the following collaborating organizations

  • International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (IJCAHPO) jcahpo.org
  • Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology (ATPO) atpo.org
  • Consortium of Ophthalmic Training Programs (COTP) cotpedu.org

Upon earning their Certificate of Technical Studies, graduates may become nationally certified by passing the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) examination administered by IJAHPO.

The Ophthalmic Medical Assisting Program is accredited by the International Council of Accreditation (ICA) as a clinical assistant level program.

What are the Career Opportunities for a COA?

  • Employment of medical technicians in fields such as ophthalmology ranks 3rd on the list of the 30 Fastest-Growing Occupations in the U.S.
  • The aging population (65 or older) is projected to double by 2030 and the need for Ophthalmic Medical Technicians will continue to increase.
  • There is an estimated need for approximately an additional 3,500 ophthalmic medical technicians in the U.S. and Canada.

Visit IJCAHPO.org for more information about careers.