What is an optometric assistant?

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.

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.

The Canadian Certified Optometric Assistant (CCOA) Program is designed to provide participants with an understanding of the fundamentals of optometric assisting. It provides assistants with an in-depth knowledge of various equipment, procedures and techniques needed to function smoothly and efficiently in an optometric practice. Course registrants are trained by qualified instructors in conjunction with the employing optometrist, to stringent national standards for optometric assisting in Canada.

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