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What's the Job Description of an Ophthalmic Assistant?

Ophthalmic assistants provide aid to an ophthalmologist and help patients see well. Read on to find out about the specific duties and responsibilities, education requirements, and salary information of ophthalmic assistants.

Career Overview

An ophthalmic assistant is essentially a medical assistant that specializes in working with ophthalmologists, or eye doctors. As an ophthalmic assistant, you will perform tests aimed at diagnosing ocular ailments, disorders, and other problems. You may also administer vision tests on patients in order to determine visual ability and eye-muscle function. Additionally, you'll educate patients on the proper use of contact lenses and eyeglasses. Many assistants, depending on the size of the practice, may be asked to apply eye dressings and aid ophthalmologists in surgical procedures.

Similar to other types of medical assistants, other job responsibilities may include clinical duties, like preparing and disinfecting equipment. Administrative duties may also be part of your everyday routine. You might, for example, maintain patient records and update them as necessary, handle billing and insurance processes, answer phones and schedule appointments.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Key Skills Refraction, LASIK procedures, patient education, medical photography and electronic records
Work Environment Office environment (assisting one or a group of Ophthalmologists)
On-the-Job Training Often provided
Professional Certification Ophthalmic Medical Assistant certificate programs typically cover patient care, ocular anatomy, contact lenses and eye exams. Certification can be a competitive advantage for employment.
Similar Occupations Career path may lead to Registered Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist or Educator

Source: PayScale.com

Educational Requirements

There are no formal postsecondary education requirements, and many assistants receive on-the-job training; however, there are college training programs available that acquaint you with the procedures, techniques, and skills necessary for this career. Earning an ophthalmic medical assistant diploma or certificate might give you an advantage over your competition and make you more desirable to potential employers.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

In 2021, PayScale.com reported that most ophthalmic assistants earned between $14.42 - $23.64 per hour and about $30,000 - $50,000 per year including any bonuses, overtime, and profit sharing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) listed a median annual wage of $37,940 as of May 2020. The BLS predicted employment growth of 14% (much faster than average) for ophthalmic medical technicians from 2019 to 2029.