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General Information

COT Updates Effective August, 2013

The COT Skill Evaluation, in addition to the new COT multiple-choice examination will be republished to reflect the new Job Task Analysis and test content domains and will be published at the same time for statistical and accreditation purposes in 2013.

The revised COT multiple-choice examination based on the new content areas will be available in Pearson VUE testing centers beginning August 1, 2013. It is important to note that the content and sub-content areas of the multiple-choice examination did not change substantially. However, the percentages of items in specific content areas were adjusted to adequately reflect the tasks performed by job incumbents.

The tasks for the COT Skill Evaluation will remain as follows: Lensometry, Keratometry, Ocular Motility, Visual Fields, Retinoscopy, Refinement, and Tonometry.

Graduates who are eligible to take the examination prior to August 1, 2013 will be tested on the existing COT multiple-choice examination and Skill Evaluation. Those students who take the examination on or after August 1, 2013 will be tested on the updated examinations.

The Value of Certification

Certification is a process that recognizes individuals who have met certain qualifications and demonstrated special knowledge and expertise. JCAHPO certification is recognized and respected internationally by physicians, employers, administrators, and other ophthalmic and medical personnel. Certified ophthalmic medical personnel bring important benefits to their patients, their employers, and themselves:

  • Because of their special training and skills, certified personnel have demonstrated more knowledge and confidence, enabling them to provide better patient care.
  • Certified personnel are trained to perform many skilled tasks, freeing up physicians to diagnose and treat patients to make their ophthalmic practices more productive.
  • Certification opens the door to greater professional advancement, career satisfaction, increased employability, and higher compensation.

Levels of Certification

JCAHPO’s three core levels of certification comprise a solid ladder for progressive career development.

Standard Occupational Classification

In January 2009, the ophthalmic allied health profession received approval as a separate occupational classification by the federal government. Beginning in 2010, Ophthalmic Medical Technician will be officially recognized as a new occupational listing by the United States Bureau of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). The new SOC listing distinguishes the ophthalmic allied health profession from the general medical assisting professional community as ophthalmic medical technicians. This is a specialized grouping of technicians supporting practitioner ophthalmologists with occupational skills, education and training, and professional support functions as other similarly recognized technicians. All three levels of JCAHPO certification (COA®, COT®, and COMT®) are included in this job class.

Core Levels of Certification

COA® (Certified Ophthalmic Assistant ®)
The Certified Ophthalmic Assistant® (COA®) certification level is JCAHPO’s initial core level of certification.

COT® (Certified Ophthalmic Technician®)
The Certified Ophthalmic Technician® (COT®) certification level is JCAHPO’s second core level designation. In other words, COTs have generally either worked as a COA for at least a year or graduated from a CoA-OMP, CMA, or CAAHEP accredited training program for Ophthalmic Technicians.

COMT® (Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist®)
The Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist® (COMT®) certification is JCAHPO’s highest core level of certification. COMTs are among the top trained and educated personnel in the allied health profession. COMTs have generally either worked as COT or graduated from a CoA-OMP, CMA, or CAAHEP accredited training program for ophthalmic medical technologists.

Sub-Specialty Certification

Once certified at a core level, ophthalmic medical personnel may choose to become certified in an additional sub-specialty area.

Ophthalmic Surgical Assisting
This is a sub-specialty area of certification that demonstrates knowledge in procedures and instrumentation necessary to assist in ophthalmic surgical suites.

Low Vision Certificate of Completion is now available!

A 2012 report co-sponsored by the National Institutes of Health estimates that 2.9 million Americans are living with low vision. This number is projected to increase 72 percent by 2030 when the last of the baby boomers turn 65. You can take great pride in helping visually impaired individuals lead productive and independent lives! Become the low vision resource expert in your office and earn 7 CE Credits!

Download the Order Form now!


Additional Certifications

CCOA® (Corporate Certified Ophthalmic Assistant)
This certification is for corporate employees, of companies that supply products and services to the ophthalmic community. It demonstrates ophthalmic background and technical knowledge for marketing credibility.

ROUB® (Registered Ophthalmic Ultrasound Biometrist)
This certification is for OMP who perform A-scan biometry on the eye. It demonstrates a knowledge base in biometry and physics.

CDOS® (Certified Diagnostic Ophthalmic Sonographer)
This certification is for OMP who perform diagnostic B-scan sonography on the eye. It demonstrates a knowledge base in the principles and instrumentation needed to perform eye exams using high frequency sound waves.

We Salute Our Troops and Those Who Serve Our Country!

JCAHPO offers government and military personnel in the United States and Canada a 40% to 50% discount on certification application fees. The discounted certification application fees for initial examinations are applicable for all core certification levels for military personnel in the following areas: Active Duty, Contract Military, Veterans’ Affairs, and Military Veterans.

JCAHPO has always worked with military personnel during active duty who requested special consideration for certification applications and recertification. Individuals who may serve in other foreign services may contact JCAHPO for the fee schedule. We will continue to accept special requests for recertification extensions with no fees for active duty military that are deployed overseas.

JCAHPO is recognized by the United States Veterans’ Administration and participates in its education and certification veterans’ benefits program. Military personnel and veterans can make application for reimbursement of their education, continuing education, and certification expenses by approved certification providers. U.S. military personnel can access this education and certification information at the United States Department of www.va.gov.

For Canadian veterans benefits, visit here.

Scope of Ophthalmic Medical Personnel

As a member of the allied health profession, ophthalmic medical personnel (OMP) are part of a professional team of eye care providers. Certified OMP perform assigned procedures under the direction or supervision of a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery, and qualified in ophthalmology.

Some of the most common tasks performed by OMP at all levels of certification include:

  • Taking patient histories
  • Maintaining instruments
  • Administering tests and evaluations
  • Taking eye measurements
  • Providing patient services
  • Performing a variety of clinical tasks

Ophthalmic allied health professionals possess skills and knowledge attained by didactic and clinical ophthalmic educational training. Their function is to assist the ophthalmologist by collecting data, administering treatment ordered by the ophthalmologist, and supervising patients. OMP are not independent practitioners and may not diagnose/treat eye disorders or prescribe medications. They can supply vital information to the physician who is treating patients, and may assist in areas such as surgery, patient instruction, and compliance.

JCAHPO certification and examination includes knowledge and performance of techniques in administration of eye drops, ointments, and irrigating solutions to the eye, and knowledge about oral medications and non-invasive techniques. It is not within the scope of JCAHPO certification and examination to evaluate the performance of any injection technique or similar invasive procedure when needles, trocars, cannulas, or instillation devices are placed within and beneath tissue surfaces.

While certification is an important indication of your knowledge and skill, please remember that JCAHPO does not warrant the job performance or express an opinion of the competence of individual certificants. We give you the tools to excel; the rest is up to you!


JCAHPO's COA, COT, and COMT levels of certification are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NCCA accreditation confirms that JCAHPO's certification programs meet the highest national voluntary standards for private certification.

The names of individuals, who are newly certified, have advanced to a higher level of certification, or whose certifications have expired, may be published by JCAHPO or be provided to state ophthalmologic societies and regional societies without authorization.

Phone: (651) 731-2944 / (800) 284-3937    FAX: (651) 731-0410    International: 00 1 651.731.2944

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