By: Guneet Bal, Contributing Writer
Edited by: Elias Azizi, Editor in Chief
A paraoptometric is a healthcare professional who assists an optometrist in providing visual care for patients. Paraoptometrics are essentially the doctors who do smaller tasks like gathering information and past history of patients to assist the optometrist further.
Here are the tasks of a paraoptometric:
Front desk assistance & scheduling patients
Dealing with insurance claims
Under the assistance and supervision of an optometrist, paraoptometrics also do clinical work such as:
Contact lens adjustments
Cleaning up and dispensing eyewear.
A more detailed list is given in (What Is a Certified Paraoptometric Technician? | HealthGrad)
“Taking patient histories
Measuring the level of visual acuity
Measuring how much the cornea curves in each eye; known as keratometry
Perform basic business tasks including keeping sales records; tracking prescriptions for each customer, and ordering and keeping inventory
Testing blood pressure, which affects eye health
Measuring the distance from one pupil to the other”
Paraoptometrics are often in a procedure room to build confidence between the patients and optometrists. “ A majority of optometrists utilize three or more paraoptometrics in the office. Well-trained personnel build an office-patient relationship that is not only invaluable to the optometrist but also ensures patient satisfaction and quality of services.” (What Is a Certified Paraoptometric Technician? | HealthGrad)
How to qualify to be a paraoptometric:
High school: Many optometry and paraoptometric university programs require math, English, and science courses - most commonly biology and chemistry.
From here, students must choose what level of paraoptometrics they would like to pursue.
Certified Paraoptometric Coder - (CPOC)
Certified Paraoptometric (CPO)
Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA)
Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOT)
(from lowest to highest level.)
Certified Paraoptometric Coder: CPOCs are commonly responsible for billing patients and ensuring that all information about procedures for patients is accurate. A certified paraoptometric coder can be the first line of defense against non-compliance and improper coding for the provider. (Paraoptometric - Health Professions Network)
Certified Paraoptometric: They are the paraoptometrics who work at the front desk. They are responsible for scheduling, reaching out to patients, dealing with insurance forms and accepting payments. They are also trained in different types of eyewear, and repairing and adjusting frames. (What Is a Certified Paraoptometric Technician? | HealthGrad) (Paraoptometric - Health Professions Network)
Certified Paraoptometric Assistant: “Under the supervision of an optometrist, a CPOA may perform technical duties such as taking detailed patient histories, measuring visual acuity, measuring the curvature of the cornea (keratometry), glaucoma screening, blood pressure testing, and measuring the distance between the pupils of the eye.” (Paraoptometric - Health Professions Network)
Certified Paraoptometric Technician: They are responsible for everything described above, as well as modifying eye contact lenses, ordering prescription frames, photographing and scanning the interior of the eye, supervising vision therapy and giving low vision training, and are capable of handling any other task the head optometrist may need. (Paraoptometric - Health Professions Network)
CPO: “Eligibility for the exam requires a high school diploma or GED equivalency plus at least six months of employment in eye care.
This certification proves demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the concepts used in optometric care.
You may be asking yourself, what exactly does this mean? Basically, it includes a range of duties and skills carried out by paraoptometrics.
To clarify, it refers to front desk operations, pre-testing, assisting the eye doctor, explaining contact lens care and instructions, fitting frames, billing/coding, vision therapy and office management.” (Eye Care Professional Certifications: CPO, CPOA and CPOT Explained)
CPOA: “When it comes to eye care professional certifications, the next level is the Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA).
These eye care professionals must be a graduate or enrolled in a CPC-approved optometric assistant program. They need to have a minimum of three years of work experience in eye care plus hold a valid CPO.
At this intermediate level, a certificate holder has demonstrated the ability to apply optometric care concepts.” (Eye Care Professional Certifications: CPO, CPOA and CPOT Explained)
CPOT: “To become a certified paraoptometric technician, you need to take and pass a national examination. The test has 225 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge in these areas:
Pre-testing procedures: Visual acuity; vision screening; color vision, and stereo acuity
Clinical procedures: Tonometry; visual fields; contact lenses; vision therapy; first aid and triage; vision rehab and ocular procedures
Ophthalmic optics and dispensing: Principles of light; lenses; selecting frames; adjustment
Refractive status of each eye, binocularity: Errors of refraction; refractive conditions; eye movements and binocular vision
Anatomy and physiology: Anatomy and physiology of the eye; pharmacology; it is especially important to understand eye muscles and how they work together
Practice management: How to manage a vision care office; professional issues; state and federal laws and regulations; health information technology
To qualify to sit for the CPOT examination, candidates must meet all of the following standards:
Have at least six months of eye care employment as a Certified Paraoptometric Assistant (CPOA), or have graduated or been a student in your last quarter of study in an optometric technician program that has been approved by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE).
All candidates for the CPOT certification have to complete the CPOT examination in a period of 18 months prior to the CPOT credential being awarded.” (What Is a Certified Paraoptometric Technician? | HealthGrad)