student giving an eye exam

Eye Care Assistant Program

The Eye Care Assistant program is a clinical ophthalmic assistant program accredited by the International Council of Accreditation (ICA) for Allied Ophthalmic Education Programs. The program is the only accredited clinical ophthalmic assistant program in the state of Illinois.

Eye care assistant courses teach students medical ethics, regulatory and legal issues, eye care safety and  general and ocular anatomy and physiology. Students receive hands-on experience through lab work and clinical instruction, making it easier to transition into the field of eye care.

College of DuPage Health Science programs maintain strong clinical affiliations with healthcare settings across the Chicago metropolitan area.

Upon graduation, students are prepared for entry level positions as ophthalmic and optometric assistants under the supervision of licensed eye care professionals to assist with diagnostic and treatment oriented procedures. Students can sit for the national certification exam for the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA), administered by I-JCAHPO.  

First Step to Register - Attend an Advising Session

Determine Your Path

After earning the Eye Care Assistant certificate, many students continue their education and earn an Associate in Applied Science in Ophthalmic Technology.

As an eye care assistant student at COD, you'll find:

  • Small class sizes that ensure students receive personalized attention.
  • Dedicated instructors with a passion for teaching, with years of professional experience as ophthalmic technicians and optometrists.
  • Hybrid program offering live didactic learning, hands on lab and live clinical instruction in ophthalmology clinics and hospitals. Online components supplement all areas of learning.
  • Program accreditation from the International Council of Accreditation (ICA) for Allied Ophthalmic Education Programs.
  • The only eye care certified ophthalmic assistant certificate program in the state of Illinois.

Eye Care Assistant

The Eye Care Assistant certificate program is designed to prepare students for entry level positions as assistants in optometrist and ophthalmology practices.

The Eye Care Assistant program is a clinical ophthalmic assistant program accredited by the International Council of Accreditation (ICA) for Allied Ophthalmic Education Programs. Students are eligible to sit for the COA (certified ophthalmic assistant ) exam upon completion of program.

More information about ICA can be found on:

Address: 2025 Woodlane Drive St. Paul, MN 55125-2998
Phone: (651) 731-7243
Fax: (651) 731-0410

Medical Mission Trip

Along with Global Health Outreach (GHO) and other health care professionals, COD health sciences students have the opportunity to participate in a  field study medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic from Aug. 3, to Sunday, Aug. 11. Physical requirements include being able to stand and walk for many hours on uneven surfaces. 

Get Started Today

The first step to getting started in the Eye Care Assistant program is to read the Eye Care Assistant Registration Packet. The packet contains an admission checklist that you will need to follow in order to be eligible for admission.

Program Costs

Academic and Career Pathways give you a roadmap to achieving your career goals. Follow a pathway based on your degree that outlines which classes you need to take and when so you graduate on time or move on to the next phase in your career.

Eye Care Assistant students will develop skills and knowledge necessary to gain employment as entry-level eye care/ophthalmic assistants and become contributing members of an eye care team.

Eye Care Assistant Program graduates will:

  • Obtain knowledge of the anatomy and physiology, patient care concepts, aseptic technique and environmental control, supplies and equipment and procedures in order to enhance his/her ability to provide safe and quality care to all ophthalmic patients.
  • Demonstrate high ethical codes of conduct and high professional standards as clinicians. 
  • Be prepared academically and clinically to successfully pass the certified ophthalmic assistant (COA) exam mandated by I-JCAPHO.
  • Feel encouraged to possess a life-long commitment to personal growth and professional development through continued involvement in the profession.
  • Learn how to provide a safe and caring environment, in which working as a part of the ophthalmic team can provide a positive outcome for all culturally diverse patients.
  • Receive hands-on experiences that require applying learned material/knowledge to practice by incorporating technical and critical thinking along with clinical reasoning/problem solving.

The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) credentials set the profession's standards for ensuring the knowledge and competence of practicing Allied Ophthalmic Personnel (AOP) and are recognized as the most respected global credential for AOP.

The Eye Care Assistant program at College of DuPage will focus on JCAHPO credentials of the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA).

As part of the allied health profession, Allied Ophthalmic Personnel (AOP) are one of the members of the professional team of eye care providers. Certified AOP perform assigned procedures under the direction or supervision of a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery and qualified in ophthalmology. AOP are not independent practitioners and may not diagnose, teat 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 education and compliance.

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

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

JCAHPO certifications and examinations include knowledge and performance of techniques in the 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, remember that JCAHPO does not guarantee the job performance or express an opinion of the competence of individuals who have achieved certification.

The Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) is the entry level core designation designed to start eye care professionals on the path to success. The COA designation confirms an assistant's knowledge in 19 specific content areas.

COD Stories

Nathan Verrips

“The field of optometry seemed like the perfect decision for me. It is truly fulfilling to enhance a person’s quality of life.” - Nathan Verrips

Nathan's COD Story


Eye Care Assistant and Ophthalmic Technician

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Students earning the Eye Care Assistant Certificate program at COD will gain the skills for entry-level positions as ophthalmic and optometric assistants.