Ophthalmic Medical Assistant: Career, Schooling, Job Duties

Search Medical Assistant Programs

Get information on Medical Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Search

Ophthalmic Medical Assistants (OMAs) are trained medically and technically to perform clinical and administrative tasks of eye care in offices and clinical settings. They assist ophthalmologists and optometrists in preliminary eye examinations, diagnosing, eye tests, and treatments.

 In addition, OMAs also support the smooth operation of clinics, interacting with patients, scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records, educating patients on post-care instructions and treatment, and preparing them for surgeries.

Education, Training, and Certification

Ophthalmic Medical Assistant education and training encompasses both classroom and distance learning and practical experiences. The training provides theoretical and clinical skills to make an OMA proficient in performing efficiently in eye clinic settings, assisting Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians.

High School Diploma/GED: The educational journey of OMAs begins with the completion of a High School Diploma or GED.  Their curriculum should include biology and chemistry subjects for a strong foundation to succeed as an OMA.

Accredited Training Programs: The next step requires enrolling in community colleges, vocational schools, or technical institutes for theoretical and practical training in the field of eye care. The program should be accredited by the Council of Accreditation (ICA), and approved by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO).  The program duration ranges from a few months to 2 years depending on the training provider institutions. Working individuals can also complete on-the-job training for Certification eligibility.

Program Cost – The training program cost varies, and depends upon the type of institutions and Certifications, and the duration of the training programs. Generally, an individual will have to pay around $800 to as high as $12,000.

Certification: Although certification is not essential, it opens up better career opportunities, and also proves the skills and competence of an OMA, much desired by the employers. Certification is offered by the JCAHPO to eligible candidates.  OMAs graduated from accredited ophthalmic medical assistant programs and certified by JCAHPO are in high demand in various eye career clinical settings.


The training courses and curriculum include:

  • Classroom teaching,
  •  Lab and skill learning in a clinical setting.

The Coursework covers a wide range of topics on clinical and administrative tasks. The students gain extensive knowledge in eye anatomy, optics, and patient care. The training also teaches them the use, operation, and techniques of diagnostic, visual testing, and surgical types of equipment. It prepares an OMA to perform in eye care settings, where they assist ophthalmologists in patient history assessments, eye examinations, treatments, and necessary eye surgeries. They are also trained in performing administrative tasks including scheduling patient appointments, record keeping, and insurance billings.


The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) has put certification criteria and requirements for becoming a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA). To be eligible to sit for the certification exam, the student must complete any one of the following:

  • Complete the Council of Accreditation (ICA) accredited clinical training program
  • Graduates from non-clinical training programs including online programs
  • Work Experience


The Certification test is 180 minutes long. The COA Practice Examination consists of 200 questions based on Allied Ophthalmic Personnel (AOP) tasks. The candidates will have to pay the necessary fees to be eligible to appear in the exam. The successful completion of the test awards a Certification within 30 days.

Other than Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA), JCAHPO also offers Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT) and Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) Certifications. To earn these Certificates, candidates need to complete additional and advanced education requirements. The Certified COAs are better equipped with efficiency for improved patient care and patient outcomes. It is also vital for further specialization and career advancement. They can assist ophthalmologists and optometrists more proficiently.

Educational Ladder

  • Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA)
  • Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT)
  • Certified Ophthalmic Technologist(COMT)

Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) is an entry-level position. COA can become a Certified Ophthalmic Technician for an Intermediate Level Certification. COT can further progress to Advanced Level Certification by completing necessary training and exam eligibility requirements.

Salary & Benefits

Per hour salary for Certified Ophthalmic Assistant ranges from $22 to $29, and annual compensation varies from $45,845 and $59,976 as per Salary.Com  July 25, 2023 report. According to BLS statistics, the Median Annual wage of Ophthalmic Medical Technicians is $ 38,860, and per hour, and the Mean Hourly wage is $20.42.



Certified ophthalmic professionals also enjoy comprehensive Benefits Packages including Medical and Dental Insurance, Paid vacations, Travel Benefits, Retirement plans, and more.

Salary variation factors:

Allied Ophthalmic Personnel (AOP) is one of the fast-growing healthcare careers in the US. However, the salary may vary depending on various below-given factors including:

  • Work Place
  • Education and Level of Training
  • Population
  • Location
  • Specialization and Levels of Certification
  • Experience
  • Responsibilities
  • Economic conditions

Top Paying States as per

  • Alaska
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts

As per BLS 2021 report, these states pay top remunerations to Ophthalmic Medical Technicians.

States with Top Employment

 The States that offer the highest numbers of job opportunities are:

  • Texas
  • Florida
  • California
  • Ohio
  • North Carolina.

BLS Report 2021


Ophthalmic Medical Assistants work in varied eye care clinical settings. They perform clinical and administrative tasks including assisting ophthalmologists in attending to all age group patients with eye conditions and issues, diagnosing, examinations and testing, and treatment.

OMA Work Settings:

Ophthalmology Clinics

  • Eye Care Clinics
  • Opticals Optometry Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Ambulatory Surgery Centers
  • Laser Eye Surgery Centers
  • Research Centers
  • Private practices
  • University Medical Centers
  • Paediatric Ophthalmology Clinics

Job Responsibilities

  • Schedule patient appointments, and record and maintain eye patient medical histories.
  • Prepare patients for Pre-surgery, and educate them on eye health and post-operative care.
  • Assist in routine eye examination, diagnosis, treatment, and surgery procedures.
  • Help with vision tests, care, lens fittings, and prescribe corrective lenses.
  • Assist patients in prescription eyeglasses, and contact lens fittings.
  • Attend Child eye care needs
  • Performing Administrative tasks including record keeping, billing, and insurance.
  • Maintenance of equipment  

Career Outlook

Ophthalmic Medical Assistant is one of the fasted growing occupations in health care. The job outlooks for Ophthalmic Medical Assistants are bright, and they are in high demand in various ophthalmology clinics, hospitals, and other eye care and private practice settings. The factors that can play an important role in higher job prospects and growth for OMAs include:

  • The aging population and general awareness for eye health and care.
  • Personnel with specialized skills are much in demand for operation and maintenance of equipment, patient management, and routine eye care procedures.
  •  The rapid advancement in ophthalmic technology will further boost the demand.
  • With continued education and certification, OMAs can become ophthalmic technicians or technologists for career advancement and better remuneration opportunities.
  • Work experience, job location, and type of clinical setting also impact the demand for OMAs. Some states pay higher wages to OAMs than their counterparts.
  • Employers prefer OMAs who are certified with Accredited training programs in comparison to distance learning and program completion certificates.

Financial Assistance

Individuals aiming to pursue a career in Eye care can become an Ophthalmic Medical Assistant/Technician/Technologist. They can ease their tuition and additional training-related costs through governments and private entities offering Financial Assistance. The students can avail following options for reducing their program costs.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Scholarships and Grants
  • IJCAHPO Assistance

To be eligible for IJCAHPO Financial Assistance, the students need to attend accredited training programs or programs that are approved by the International Council of Accreditation (ICA). The JCAHPO Education and Research Foundation assistance to GED graduates, and also to on-the-job trained professionals.

Ophthalmic Medical Assistant FAQs

How long does it take to become an Ophthalmic Medical Technician:

According to IJCAHPO, an individual can become OMT as early as 6 months. The training may also extend to 1- 2 years depending on the institutions, designations,  and degrees.

The eligibility requirement is:

  • A High School Diploma or GED Graduate
  • Attend an accredited training program or a program approved by  the IJCAHPO, or
  •  Trained-on-the job.

How can I find an accredited Ophthalmic Medical Assistant program:

The students can scroll down our OMA page and find the list of all Accredited  OMA training programs. They can even visit the International Council of Accreditation (ICA) page to find the Accredited programs in the US.

How can I find suitable OMA jobs:

The graduates from the program can contact the student advisor and career coach of the program provider schools and colleges for any available vacancies. They can also browse IJCAHPO) Career Center to view current job opportunities. The graduates can also visit The American Academy of Ophthalmic Professionals™ (AAOP™) for current job opportunities.

How much Salary can I expect as a Certified OMA/OMT?

Certified CMA is offered one of the best salaries in the healthcare sector. Their salary ranges from $38,000 to $42,000 per annum.

What are the three Certification levels for Allied Ophthalmic Personnel (AOP):

There are 3 levels of AOP Certification and they include:

Entry Level – Certified Ophthalmic Assistant

Intermediate Level – Certified Ophthalmic Technician

Advanced Level – Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist

List of all ICA Accredited and IJCAHPO approved Ophthalmic Medical Assistant/ Technology Training Programs in the United States:


University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (TG)
Ophthalmic Medical Technology (Bachelor of Science Degree)
Jones Eye Institute
Little Rock, AR 72205-7199


GateWay Community College (A)
Phoenix, AZ 85034


USC Roski Eye Institute (T) *In the process of accreditation
Ophthalmic Technician Education Program
Los Angeles, CA 90033


Pima Medical Institute – Denver (T)
Ophthalmic Medical Technician (Associate of Occupational Science)
Denver, CO 80221


Housatonic Community College (A) *In the process of accreditation
Bridgeport, CT 06604


Georgetown University (A, T, & TG)
Ophthalmic Medical Personnel Training Program
Washington, DC 20007


Florida State College at Jacksonville (T)
Ophthalmic Technician Program
Jacksonville, FL 32218

Palm Beach State College (TG) Ophthalmic Medical Technology Program (Associate in Science Degree)
West Palm Beach, FL 33410


College of DuPage (CA) *In the process of accreditation
Eye Care Assistant Program
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Triton College (T)
Ophthalmic Technician (Associate of Applied Science)
River Grove, IL 60171


Delgado Community College (CA)
Ophthalmic Assistant Program
Allied Health Division
New Orleans, LA 70119-4399


Henry Ford Community College (T)
Ophthalmic Technician Program
Dearborn, MI 48128-1495


Regions Hospital (T, TG, & A)
School of Ophthalmic Medical Technology
St. Paul, MN 55130

St. Catherine University (T)
Ophthalmic Technician Program (Associate of Applied Science)
Minneapolis, MN 55454


Camden County College (T)
Ophthalmic Medical Technician Certificate
Blackwood, NJ 08012


Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (CA)
Ophthalmic Clinical Assistant Program
Asheville, NC 28801

Caldwell Community College (CA)
Ophthalmic Medical Assistant Program
Hudson, NC 28638

Central Piedmont Community College (CA)
Ophthalmic Medical Assistant Program
Charlotte, NC  28235

Duke University School of Medicine (T)
Ophthalmic Medical Technician Training Program 
Durham, NC 27710

Sandhills Community College (CA)
Pinehurst, NC 28374


Mercy College (CA)
Ophthalmic Technology Certificate Program
Toledo, OH 43604

Miami Valley Career Technology Center(CA)
Ophthalmic Assistant Program
Clayton, OH 45315

Stark State College (CA & T) *In the process of accreditation
Ophthalmic Technology
North Canton, OH 44720


Tulsa Technology Center (CA)
Vision Care Technology
Health Careers Centers
Tulsa, OK 74147


Klamath Community College (A) *In the process of accreditation
Non-Clinical Certified Ophthalmic Assistant
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

Portland Community College (T)
Ophthalmic Medical Technology (Associate of Applied Science)
Portland, OR 97217


Volunteer State Community College (T)
Ophthalmic Technician Program (Associate of Applied Science)
Gallatin, TN 37066


Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) (A)
300-68 WP3 Eye Specialty Course 
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234

San Jacinto College (T)
EyeCare Technology (Associate of Applied Science Degree)
Pasadena, TX 77505

South Texas Academy for Medical Professions (A) *In the process of accreditation
Ophthalmic Assistant
Olmito, Texas 78575

Tarrant County College (A)
Trinity River Campus
Fort Worth, TX 76102

Tyler Junior College (A)
Vision Care Technology
Tyler, TX 75701


Renton Technical College (CA)
Ophthalmic Assistant Program
Renton, WA 98056


Madison Area Technical College (CA)
Ophthalmic Clinical Assistant Program
Madison, WI 53704

medical assistant

Written by : Casey Gardner

Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator.  She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant,  and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.


medical assistant information sources