Optometric Assistants: CCOA Program

The mission of CAO member optometrists is to enhance the quality, availability & accessibility of vision-related health care; promote independent & ethical decision-making; and practice to the highest standards of patient care.

Optometric Assistants (OA’s) assist the optometrist in the delivery of eye health care services. In a typical optometric setting, an OA will see a vast array of patients from all walks of life; infants, children, men, women, seniors, able-bodied and disabled. The OA must be able to respond effectively to each patient’s needs, and to deliver care in a professional, efficient manner. The OA will have exceptional interpersonal, communication and time management skills.

While working under the supervision of a licensed optometrist, an OA has a vast array of responsibilities that may include the following:

  • Office administration and patient reception
  • Scheduling appointments and referrals
  • Patient instruction for contact lens insertion, removal and hygiene
  • Conducting preliminary vision tests prior to the eye health examination
  • Neutralization, repair, and adjustment of eyeglasses
  • Assisting with orthoptics and other vision therapies for children and adults
  • Assist the optometrist with examination procedures
  • Train Low Vision patients for devices and appliances
  • Manage effective recall systems
  • Provide patients with ophthalmic frame and lens recommendations
  • Communicate with vendors
  • Maintain proper records and ensure patient privacy

Certified Canadian Optometric Assistant (CCOA) Program:

An investment in staff training translates to a higher level of care for patients as well as increased skills confidence, retention, and job satisfaction for the optometric assistant.
The CCOA Program is a CAO member benefit, in that it provides training to individuals directly employed, supervised, and mentored by a CAO member optometrist. The majority of the training and practical skills development will occur in the clinic setting, with additional practical skills development at the workshop. The registrant must remain employed by the CAO member optometrist for the duration of the program to be eligible for CCOA certification.

There are two registration options:

1. The Full Course program provides comprehensive training for the Canadian Certified Optometric Assistant (CCOA) designation. The course schedule begins each September, and culminates with the CCOA Examination during the last 2 weeks of June. NEW: Registration is open at any time – but the registrant is required to join the course module schedule currently in session, and complete the outstanding modules when they are offered during the next Full Course term. Registrants of the Full Course program will complete;

  • 4 Modules with assignments, submitted by the indicated due dates
  • demonstrate and master practical skills, by completing the Practical Skills Checklist
  • attend a regional CCOA Program Workshop for review of critical concepts from each module


Winter Workshops (subject to minimum registration of 40 per location)*

Halifax, NS

Toronto, ON

Saskatoon, SK

Calgary, AB

Richmond, BC

*Dates and venues to be announced in November

2. The Individual Module program is geared toward registrants who wish to register for one module of the course at any time of the year. This option is recommended for those wishing to work at a slower pace than the Full Course schedule, or for those seeking to develop training in a specific area of the clinic.  Once all 4 modules have been submitted on time, the Individual Module registrant may attend the Workshop and write the CCOA Examination. (both at additional cost). Individual Module registrants will complete;

  • One module of their choice with assignment by the indicated due date
  • demonstrate and master practical skills, by completing the Practical Skills Checklist

Need to Know:

Registrants should anticipate spending approximately 10-15 hours study time per week. Practical skills will be learned in the clinic setting and at the workshop, which is attended once all Module assignments have been submitted.

Module 1 :  Anatomy, Physiology, Pretesting, Patient Management

Module 2:  Ophthalmic Frame Dispensing

Module 3:  Ophthalmic Lens Dispensing

Module 4: Contact Lenses

Visit Module Synopsis and Course Overview for additional information.