Get involved in a professional association such as the Association of Technical Personnel in Opthalmology, https://www.atpo.org, to meet others in the field and learn about job opportunities. Speak to an ophthalmic medical technologist to get the inside scoop on this job. Ask your school's career services office for help with setting up an informational interview with a technologist, and prepare your questions about this profession in advance. Volunteering at a local hospital or clinic is a great way to experience the health care workplace and see if this is a good match for your interests and skills. You can also learn more about the practice of ophthalmology by reading articles and finding other resources at the Web site of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (https://www.aao.org/medical-students).
Ophthalmic medical technologists assist ophthalmologists, who typically spend four days a week in the office seeing patients and one day a week performing surgery, usually at a hospital. Technologists may perform eye examinations, administer eye medication, and instruct patients in how to use and care for corrective lenses. They help ophthalmologists perform eye tests that screen for diseases and infections such as glaucoma and conjunctivitis, or pink eye.
Ophthalmologists treat patients of all ages, from infants to elderly adults. Ophthalmic medical technologists assist ophthalmologists by checking a patient's vision and prescribing glasses and contact lenses to correct any problems. They measure intraocular pressure by conducting tonometry or tonography tests. They use tools such as an ophthalmoscope, which is an instrument used to look at the inside of the eye. These tools and tests can help detect signs of diseases that affect other parts of the body, such as diabetes and hypertension. Ophthalmologists and technologists may work with other physicians in diagnosing and managing treatment when health problems are discovered.
Other tasks that ophthalmic medical technologists may have include using various tests to measure patients' visual acuity, including near, distance, pinhole, or dynamic visual acuity. They also use ultrasound and ultrasonography equipment to collect ophthalmic measurements or other diagnostic information. Technologists take anatomical or functional ocular measurements of the eye or of the tissue surrounding the eye. They also assist ophthalmologists with minor eye surgeries, preparing instruments, and applying aseptic techniques.
Ophthalmic medical technologists may work with ophthalmologists who specialize in any one or more of the following areas: cornea and external disease, cataract and refractive surgery, glaucoma, uveitis and ocular immunology, vitreoretinal diseases, ophthalmic plastic surgery, pediatric ophthalmology, neuro-ophthalmology, and ophthalmic pathology. Some patients may have disease that can cause them partial or complete loss of vision. This may make them fearful and anxious, which is why ophthalmic medical technologists must have compassion and understanding when working with patients.