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Ophthalmology is a specialized branch of medicine that primarily deals with the anatomy, physiology, diseases and injuries associated with the eye. Ophthalmic medical assistants typically complete an accredited MA training program.

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These programs are available from a variety of sources including community colleges, technical centers, universities and on-line programs. MA programs last up to two years. Two-year programs often allow the participant to graduate with an associate degree.


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After the completion of the traditional MA training program, those wishing to pursue a career specializing as an ophthalmic medical assistant may be required to go through additional training and education pertaining to ophthalmology. Further education and training associated with ophthalmic MA maybe provided by the employer, through continuing education classes or specialized training programs offered through schools. Training offered through schools may be more extensive giving the individual the opportunity to work in an optometry practice in any area.

Medical assistants who choose to specialize in ophthalmology find employment opportunities in a variety of settings.

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MA working in an optometry or ophthalmology practice are responsible for performing diagnostic tests involving the eyes and vision. After each test, an ophthalmic MA will document their findings into the patients chart. They report any drastic changes or abnormalities to the physician when discovered. Assisting the optometrist or ophthalmologist is part of the job duties for an ophthalmic medical assistant.

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Ophthalmic MA help patients in a variety of ways during their visit to the eye doctor. They explain how and why specific tests are performed. They help patients navigate through the office to the testing, procedure and exam rooms. Clerical duties associated with ophthalmic medical assistants include compiling, pulling and filing patient medical charts. They are typically responsible for answering phone lines and calling patients to remind them of their upcoming appointments.


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Ophthalmic MA often greet patients when they arrive in the office. This works very nicely. The lesion usually disappears in a couple of weeks, and the follicles go away in approximately 4 to 6 weeks. Vernal keratoconjunctivitis VK : We have many medical treatment options for VK: allergy drops, steroids, cyclosporine and antibiotics.

We run into problems, however, when a shield ulcer develops. When the ulcer is white and fibrotic, with an almost calcified appearance, it usually requires surgical treatment. The fibrotic mass needs to be debrided away. Under topical anesthesia, aggressively scrape the area with a blade. The epithelial defect should heal as quickly as 1 week with antibiotics and steroids.

Standard Ophthalmic Exam

Superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis SLK : With SLK, we see thickened, inflamed superior conjunctiva, papillae on the superior palpebral conjunctiva and superior corneal filaments and pannus. Medically, we can try lubricants, steroids, mast cell stabilizers or cyclosporine. Surgically, we can consider punctal plugs or punctal cautery, silver nitrate solution, conjunctival cautery or conjunctival recession or resection with or without amniotic membrane transplantation.

I often choose conjunctival cautery, which can be performed in an exam room chair or minor surgery setting. I balloon up the superior conjunctiva with local anesthetic e. This is helpful because it moves your cautery application away from the sclera. I then use a handheld, battery-operated unit to apply cautery to the superior conjunctiva Figure 1.

Ophthalmic Medical Technician

Obviously, we need to have a cooperative patient to safely perform this procedure. Patients tend to be a little uncomfortable but not too terribly, and the conjunctival defects typically heal within a week. Conjunctival cautery is an effective in-office treatment for superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis. Chronic epithelial defect: Often related to exposure or a neurotrophic cause, what we see with this condition is generally an inferocentral epithelial defect with thickened, rounded edges.