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What Does an Optometric Assistant Do?

By Cindy Quarters
Updated May 17, 2024
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An optometric assistant works in an optometrist’s office and may perform a variety of functions, depending on the size of the office. These tasks may include routine office work, such as writing receipts, answering the phone, and general bookkeeping. He or she also often assists the doctor with patients, showing them into the examination room, instilling eye drops, and performing patient education.

Another name often used for an optometric assistant is a paraoptometric technician. This person is typically certified by a professional optometry association, usually after a period of training and subsequently passing an examination. A certified optometric assistant or paraoptometric is able to provide qualified assistance to a doctor of optometry and will generally be rated for different skill levels and specialties, similar to how nurses are rated when working with doctors and in hospitals.

When an optometric assistant has not been certified or has only been certified at the lower skill levels, he or she typically performs office work as a regular part of the job. This includes such things as setting appointments, calling patients to remind them of upcoming appointments, and taking patients into the exam rooms for their appointments. They often also handle money, accepting payments from patients and issuing receipts, along with any related bookkeeping. These aides are often trained to prepare charts and insurance forms, file, and add the appropriate medical codes to paperwork as required.

Additional training and certification may result in an optometric assistant spending more time working with the patients under the supervision of the doctor. In this case he or she may take notes for the optometrist during the examination and may also administer eye drops and possibly perform basic tests. In some cases an optometric assistant may help patients with vision therapy, teaching them necessary procedures and watching them to make sure the patients understand what to do.

Sometimes an optometric assistant will specialize in working with patients after the examination. This typically involves helping them to choose frames that are suitable both for the patient’s face and the type of lenses he or she will be getting. The paraoptometric may measure such things as the distance between the eyes or other facial measurements to assure proper fit of the new glasses.

Another specialized area that an optometric assistant may choose is helping patients with contact lenses. In this case he or she will help new contact wearers learn how to put the lenses in and remove them, as well as procedures for cleaning and general care. The paraoptometric will typically cover important warning signs as well, to help patients recognize indications of eye infections and other possible problems.

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