Program Requirements

The Canadian Certified Optometric Assistant (CCOA) Program is a member benefit of the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO).

Required Resources

Full Course & On-Demand:

  1. Textbook: System for Ophthalmic Dispensing, Third Edition, Brooks & Borish
  2. Textbook: The Ophthalmic Assistant, 10th Edition, Stein, Stein & Freeman
  3. Opportunity to routinely practice skills in the area of the optometric setting pertaining to the module of study.

Access to the latest edition of the textbooks is mandatory for all registrants to complete the course modules. Textbooks may be ordered online through Both textbooks are available in e-book and hardcopy versions.

The Basics:

Students registered in The Basics do not need textbooks. All required readings will be provided.

Individual Modules:

Students registered in Individual Modules should check the list of required readings below before purchasing any textbooks.

  • Module 1: The Ophthalmic Assistant, 10th edition
  • Module 2: Provided
  • Module 3: Provided
  • Module 4: The Ophthalmic Assistant 10th edition
  • Module 5: System for Ophthalmic Dispensing, 3rd edition
  • Module 6: System for Ophthalmic Dispensing, 3rd edition
  • Module 7: System for Ophthalmic Dispensing, 3rd edition
  • Module 8: Provided
  • Module 9: Provided

Course Outline

The CCOA Program is designed to provide participants with an understanding of the fundamentals of optometric assistance. It will provide assistants with an in-depth knowledge of various equipment, procedures and techniques needed to function smoothly and efficiently in an optometric office.

The practical skills checklist component for most modules is intended to develop hands-on skills as the assistant applies the theory learned from the required reading. It is critical that the assistant is given the opportunity to work under supervision in the areas of the clinic pertaining to the module they are studying.

The study plan, assignments and quizzes are structured upon the learning objectives for each module. Assignment questions and quizzes are based upon the required reading as listed in the study guide and course textbooks.

Each module assignment must be completed online and submitted via the CAO Learning Portal by the deadline date indicated on the student’s progress tab. Late assignments (including retakes) will not be accepted and graded as zero.

Each module quiz must be completed online and submitted via the CAO Learning Portal by the deadline date indicated on the student’s progress tab. Late quizzes (including retakes) will not be accepted and graded as zero.

The Practical Skills Checklist

Note that Modules 1, 4 and 9 do not include a checklist as these modules focus on clerical skills. The links will be available on the students’ CAO Learning Portal. The checklists should be printed. All skills listed are required learning objectives. The checklists are to be completed as the student works through each module session and must be submitted by the deadline date associated with the module at hand. Each skill is demonstrated and examined by the sponsoring optometrist or a CCOA. The examiner must initial and date the checklist once each skill has been mastered.

Submitting checklists

The deadline to submit the practical skills checklists are the same as the corresponding module deadline. It must be submitted via a student’s CAO Learning Portal.

Access to equipment

All students are required to be trained to standards established by the CCOA Program Committee to be eligible for CCOA designation. This includes mastery of ALL skills in the checklist. If fulfilling some of the skill requirements within the clinic environment is problematic due to lack of equipment, it is recommended that the supervising optometrist locate an optometric office in the area for the student to acquire these skills.

Authorized examiners

All examiners must identify themselves by completing the information on the second page of the Practical Skills Checklists.

Examiners are restricted to:

  • CAO member optometrist or;
  • CCOA (Canadian Certified Optometric Assistant) in good standing, working under the direct supervision of the sponsoring OD.