Undergrad Catalog

Ophthalmic Technician Program (OPH)

Program Option: A.A.S.

St. Catherine University developed the two-year ophthalmic technician program in response to a shortage of well-trained ophthalmic technicians in the Twin Cities and the state. Previously, there was no technician-level program in the state.

In the ophthalmic technician program, you will learn through classroom lectures and discussion, laboratory demonstrations and practice, and clinical experiences in eye clinic settings in the Twin Cities area. The curriculum includes 33 semester credits of liberal arts and sciences courses (reduced to 27 for students entering the University Fall 2014 or later) and 40 semester credits of ophthalmic courses. Approximately 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience is built into the curriculum and students will rotate through various eye clinics in the Twin Cities.

Upon graduating at the end of the two-year program, you will be eligible to take the certified ophthalmic technician (COT) certification examination administered by JCAHPO (Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology). The COT certification is the intermediate level of certification expertise and this represents an excellent balance of knowledge and skills. In its career ladder JCAHPO has also established a certification pathway for COTs who have been in the profession for three years to take the examination for the advanced level of certification (COMT).

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine specializing in the anatomy, functions, pathology, diagnosis and treatment of the eye. Ophthalmologists are medical physicians, with an M.D. or D.O. degree, who specialize in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions, vision measurements for glasses and/or contact lenses (refraction), eye muscle disbalances, the prevention of low vision or blindness and care for the blind. With the increasing technological advancements in procedures and instruments, the aging population and the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric eye conditions at earlier ages, this healthcare profession is expanding rapidly to meet the needs of persons of all ages. Within the healthcare profession, the ophthalmic medical technology field is expanding rapidly and experiencing a strong need for qualified technicians. This field offers excellent opportunities for employment in diverse practice arenas as well as opportunities for specialization.

As a COT you will be an important part of an eye care team, working under the direct supervision of an ophthalmologist, screening patients to obtain important medical information and performing ophthalmic tests, measurements, and protocols for the physician treating the patient. You will perform tasks such as obtaining medical histories; measuring vision, powers of spectacle lenses, corneal curvature, eye pressure, eye deviations, and pupil reactions; and performing visual field, muscle movement, pupil abnormality, tear function, ultrasound, stereo and color tests. Additional tests and measurements may also be ordered by the ophthalmologist.

As a COT you may work in a private clinic, hospital, medical center or university research and training center. COTs also function as clinic managers, trainers, instructors or program directors at accredited educational programs. Positions in research, technical writing, sales and consulting are also options for qualified COTs.

Once you have earned the COT credential, you will have additional opportunities to broaden your knowledge and move into specialties such as orthoptics (eye deviations and disbalances) and subspecialties such as ophthalmic surgical assisting, ophthalmic ultrasound, ophthalmic coding and reimbursement.

Students who are currently working in the field but have no formal education related to this profession will be required to complete all program requirements.

Major Requirements:

Required ophthalmic core:
OPH 1010 Introduction to Ophthalmic Technology Medical Law and Ethics
OPH 1020 Ocular Anatomy & Physiology
OPH 1030 Physical & Geometric Optics
OPH 1040 Physiologic Optics, Spectacles and Contact Lenses
OPH 1050 Ophthalmic Pharmacology
OPH 1060 Ocular Motility
OPH 1210 Clinical Rotation I (Practicum)
OPH 1220 Clinic Skills Lab I
OPH 1230 Clinical Rotation II (Practicum)
OPH 2010 Eye Diseases and Ocular Emergencies
OPH 2020 Ophthalmic Imaging, Photography and Angiography
OPH 2030 Clinic Skills Lab III and Skills Review
OPH 2040 Instrument Maintenance and Project
OPH 2050 Ophthalmic Surgical Assisting
OPH 2240 Clinical Rotation III (Practicum)
OPH 2250 Clinic Skills Lab II
OPH 2260 Clinical Rotation IV (Practicum)

Supporting courses (minimum grade of C required):
BIOL 2400 General Anatomy & Physiology*
BIOL 2410 Advanced Anatomy & Physiology* (not required for students entering the University Fall 2014 or later)
CHEM 1100 Chemistry Concepts* (not required for students entering the University Fall 2014 or later)
HIMP 1020 Medical Terminology
PHIL 2000 Ethical Problems in Healthcare
PHYS 1020 Physics Concepts*
PSYC 1000 General Psychology

*These courses must have been completed no more than five years prior to entering the University to be considered for transfer and must be completed before beginning the required ophthalmic core courses.

Liberal arts & sciences core and CIL requirements:
ART elective 
CIL 1400 Health Justice
ENGL 1100 Composition 
ENGL literature elective
SSCS 1000 Power and Social Change
SSCS elective
THEO elective