An optometric assistant works alongside a certified optometrist and aids her/him in day-to-day activities. Find here the duties of an optometric assistant in detail, along with the education requirements and salary outlook for the field.
Optometry is a field that deals with eye care, and the diagnosis and treatment of eye problems. While it is an optometrist or an optometry technician who is qualified to perform these medical jobs, it is an optometry assistant who assists the optometrist in performing these tasks effectively and devoting the appropriate amount of time necessary to carry out these. An optometric assistant’s job involves clerical tasks, as well as those that include the basics of eye care. Optometric assistants are not qualified to diagnose and treat eye problems or prescribe medication without an optometrist’s orders. What are the exact duties of an optometric assistant? Let’s take a look.
Optometric assistants may work alongside optometrists in larger settings such as hospitals where they perform specialized clinical duties or in smaller settings where their duties encompass clerical or administrative duties along with clinical duties.
- One of the prime jobs of an optometric assistant is to prepare patients for any kind of tests that the optometrist may want to conduct on them. This may involve seating them comfortably before the respective machines, putting eye drops before the test if necessary, and checking glasses for their power.
- They may teach patients how to perform eye exercises and may guide them towards the basics of eye care. They may also teach them how to wear and remove contact lenses when necessary.
- Optometric assistants may conduct certain basic tests on patients to check for eye problems, only after the instruction of the optometrist.
- It is the duty of the optometric assistant to take care of the equipment in an optometrist’s clinic. It should be well functioning, and any problems with it should be taken care of by the optometric assistant.
- Optometric assistants may also guide patients toward choosing the right kind of eyeglass frame for their face shape, and also help them choose the right kind of lens for the glasses based on their requirements. These may include anti-glare or high index glasses. They then help patients adjust to the glasses or contact lenses.
- They are also trained to make adjustments in or repair eyeglass frames when necessary.
Administrative duties may come under the purview of an optometric assistant in smaller organizations. These jobs may include: taking care of the office, maintaining an inventory of important items in the office, scheduling appointments for patients, filling out insurance forms, maintaining patient records, and taking care of the billing. They may also be involved in bookkeping.
To become an optometric assistant, formal education is not imperative. However, at least a high school diploma is essential. It would help if you had taken subjects such as the sciences and mathematics in high school. Most of the training of an optometric assistant is on the job under the guidance of a licensed and certified optometrist. A minimum of one year’s training is essential to qualify as an experienced optometric assistant.
Some certifications are available for aspiring optometric assistants provided by the American Optometric Association (AOA) that registers them and provides them training. To be eligible for certification, optometric assistants must have a high school diploma and a minimum of six months of experience in the field of eye care. Registering can help gain an edge over others in terms of salary. However, it is not essential to be registered as many optometrists hire optometric assistants without formal training or education.
Employment Outlook and Salary
The employment outlook for optometric assistants looks bright in the near future as the demand for eye care professionals keeps rising. As optometrists specialize further in their job, they will require optometric assistants to carry out smaller tasks so that they can focus on their field of work. In terms of the salary of an optometric assistant, the average ranges anywhere between US $900 to US $2,100 per month. These figures may vary based on the state you are practicing in, your education, and your experience in the field. To gain a higher salary, you may go on to attend school to receive formal training and specialize further in the field.
The duties of an optometric assistant do not only require them to perform clinical or administrative tasks. They are also required to display skills in terms of handling sensitive equipment and information as well as tact in dealing with patients. Having understood the duties, education requirements, and salary outlook for the field, you may now decide whether you are capable of pursuing this rewarding field.