What Does an Ophthalmology Medical Assistant Do?

Ophthalmology Medical assistants are important members of the ophthalmology team. They perform a variety of duties to support the ophthalmologist and the patients.

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Job Description

An ophthalmology medical assistant is a key member of an ophthalmology team. Ophthalmologists are physicians who specialize in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system, so their patients may have a wide range of needs. An ophthalmology medical assistant’s job is to make sure that the office runs smoothly and that patients receive the care they need.

An ophthalmology medical assistant’s duties vary depending on the size and type of practice. In a small office, the medical assistant may be responsible for a wide range of tasks, from scheduling appointments to filing insurance claims. In a larger office, the medical assistant may specialize in one or two areas, such as patient education or contact lens fitting. No matter what their specific duties, all ophthalmology Medical Assistants must have excellent people skills and be able to multitask.

If you are interested in a career as an ophthalmology medical assistant, contact your local community college or technical school to find out about training programs in your area.

Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of an ophthalmology medical assistant include but are not limited to the following:

An ophthalmology medical assistant is responsible for providing care to patients with eye disorders. They work closely with ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other eye care professionals to provide comprehensive care to patients.

Some of the specific duties an ophthalmology medical assistant may perform include: gathering patient medical history and performing preliminary vision testing; measuring patients’ vital signs; administering eye medications as directed by a physician; preparing patients for and assisting during examinations and surgeries; educating patients on post-operative instructions, side effects, and at-home care and scheduling follow-up appointments. In addition to these duties, an ophthalmology medical assistant may also be responsible for maintaining accurate patient records, ordering supplies, and performing general office tasks.

Education and Training

Education and Training
An ophthalmology medical assistant must have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some positions may require postsecondary education, and must complete a formal training program. Some states regulate medical assistants, and certified medical assistants may have an advantage in the job market.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for an ophthalmology medical assistant was $33,610 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of ophthalmology medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.


An ophthalmology medical assistant is someone who has specialized training in caring for patients with eye disorders. These medical assistants typically have a certification from an accredited program, and they may also be certified as a Registered Medical Assistant or certified ophthalmic assistant. Ophthalmology medical assistants typically work in an ophthalmology office, but they may also work in a hospital setting.

Key Skills

An ophthalmology medical assistant must have excellent customer service skills to greet patients and answer their questions. He or she also needs to be detail oriented to gather accurate medical histories and input data into electronic health records. The ophthalmology medical assistant needs basic medical knowledge to take measurements such as visual acuity, intraocular pressure, and pupillary response. He or she also may need to apply topical medications and instruct patients on how to use them. Ophthalmology medical assistants must be comfortable sitting or standing for long periods of time while assisting the doctor during procedures.

Working Conditions

Ophthalmology medical assistants generally work in well-lit, clean offices. They spend a great deal of time on their feet, sometimes for long hours when assisting with surgeries. Many ophthalmology medical assistants work full time, and some work evenings or weekends to accommodate patients’ schedules.

Advancement Opportunities

Ophthalmology medical assistants who have completed certification and training programs and have several years of experience may advance to lead ophthalmology medical assistant roles. In these positions, they may oversee the work of other medical assistants in the office, coordinate scheduling and insurance billing, or train new employees. Some ophthalmology assistants may eventually open their own practices.

Ophthalmology Medical Assistant vs. Optometric Assistant

The duties of an ophthalmology medical assistant are quite different from those of an optometric assistant. An ophthalmology medical assistant is responsible for carrying out administrative tasks in an ophthalmologist’s office, as well as assisting the doctor with patient care. Duties of an optometric assistant, on the other hand, include performing vision tests and other routine eye care procedures.

Ophthalmology Medical Assistant vs. Ophthalmic Technician

The two main types of medical personnel who work in ophthalmology offices are ophthalmology medical assistants and ophthalmic technicians. Although their job duties may overlap, there are important distinctions between the two positions. Ophthalmology medical assistants generally have more patient contact than ophthalmic technicians and perform a wider variety of administrative tasks. Ophthalmic technicians, on the other hand, focus more on technical aspects of eye care, such as performing diagnostic tests and assisting with surgeries.

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