Professionals work with ODs to provide highest level of care

June 1, 2010

Paraoptometrics, as defined by the American Optometric Association, are the allied health personnel who assist otometrists in providing their highest level of vision care to patients.

Paraoptometrics, as defined by the American Optometric Association, are the allied health personnel who assist optometrists in providing their highest level of vision care to patients.

In the early years, the assistants employed within the optometric practice were referred to as "the girls." The girl at the desk would make appointments and accept payments. The eye-examination and frame and lens selection were typically conducted by the doctor of optometry.

As optometry evolved, so did the support team within the optometric practice. The team now consists of highly educated and skilled professionals known as paraoptometrics.

Front office procedures may still be one of the responsibilities performed by the paraoptometric, but you will also find the paraoptometric working directly with the patient in the examination and treatment process.

Today's paraoptometric works very closely with the optometrist in providing patient care. With the help of the paraoptometric, the OD is able to delegate portions of the assessment process, therefore allowing doctors to concentrate their time and expertise on the assessment and diagnostic portion of the eye health and vision evaluation.

A nurse, a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA), or a Certified Paraoptometric Technician (CPOT) collects data regarding the patient's condition. The paraoptometric often performs the pre-testing procedures in advance with the patient. This pre-test can include the determining the patient's chief complaint, and assessing entrance acuities, binocular skills, extraocular muscles, color vision, intraocular pressures, corneal curvature, and blood pressure readings.

The optometrist may also delegate specialized testing procedures for visual fields testing, fundus photography, or retinal evaluations.