Ophthalmic Surgical Assistant Career Guide


In the healthcare industry, assistance is very much needed to allow the medical professionals to carry out the tasks that are expected from them. The assistants perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks in order to help physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists, and other health specialists. These assistants are also commonly found on clinics of ophthalmologists, wherein they help in photography and other related tasks. If you are interested in building a career as an ophthalmic surgical assistant, there is a need to gain formal education and experience. Aside from being good in multitasking, this will also require you to have the passion in helping other people, including the specialist and the patient.

Job Duties

These assistants provide a helping to the surgeons and doctors during the eye operation and treatment procedures, as well as during checkups. They will need to check the condition of the eyes of the patient and assist for the presence of abnormalities, such as amblyopia. They also make use of the ultrasound equipment to diagnose diseases and dysfunctions. With the help of clinical photography techniques, they take images of the eyes through computed tomography. They perform tests to check cornel and retinal defects. They also take measurements of the eye through anatomical and functional procedures.

The other tasks that are performed by ophthalmic surgical assistants include instructing and checking other ophthalmic staffs to practice effectively at their jobs, inquiry on the patients, checking for signs of recovery, maintenance of the equipments that are used in the procedures performed by an ophthalmologist, making sure that there is always enough supply of the materials needed, promotion of general care, giving instructions to patients, documentation of patient history, and updating the database.

Career Outlook

There are many employment opportunities that can be taken advantage by the professionals in this field. Most likely, their common work settings would be in the office of a physician, offices of health practitioners, and general medical and surgical hospitals. When backed up with at least two years of experience, there is a higher probability to be employed in better institutions. In May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are at least 539,220 jobs related to this field.


In 2012, the average annual salary for ophthalmic surgical assistants is around $45,000.

Education Requirements

The employers, like in any other field, seek for individuals who are equipped with the right set of skills and knowledge in the job. Therefore, to build a career in this field, there is a need for you to invest in education and training programs that will provide you with the edge from other people. Diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees will prove to be helpful in getting a better job, and of course, a higher salary.

Some of the courses that should be taken to work in this field include physiology, psychology, anatomy, diagnostic testing, and ocular surgery assistance. You will also be taught about contact lenses, healthcare law, and office management techniques. You should gain certification in order to improve the chances of building a better career. One of the organizations that issue certifications for such professionals is the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO).

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