When applying to take the ophthalmic assistant certification exam via the on-the-job training route, the Joint Commission requires the applicant to complete an "independent study course". There are two to choose from, and they each consist of a basic level text to read/study and a quiz or test that must be passed.

The original idea was to provide study material that would help the assistant pass the certification exam. Unfortunately, the ophthalmic assistant level certification exam has evolved in complexity to the point that the vast majority of exam takers cannot pass the exam having studied only these texts, which have basic level information only.

Eyetec.net has an Ophthalmic Assistant Exam Preparation Course that provides an effective way to prepare for th exam. However, the eyetec.net prep course does not count as an "independent study" course, and you must still go through the formality of completing what the Joint Commission has to offer, which are described below.

Recommendation: Option 2 below is the less expensive alternative for completing this requirement.

Option 1: "Ophthalmic Medical Assisting: An independent Study Course, (most recent edition)"

This is a book published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It is one of the "independent study courses" that is required by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (800-284-3937).  

If you purchase the book and exam on the AAO website, the cost is less if you are an AAO  member. Non-member text only can be purchased for $130. The online exam only can be purchased for $75.  After purchase you are given a code and a web address to access the exam. The exam is 228 questions and a score of 80% is required to pass. The cost of the exam includes one retest if you fail. If you have the textbook, there is really no excuse for failing to pass the exam as it is open book. However, the advantage of the paper exam (see option 2 below) is that you have access to all the questions before completing your answers on the score sheet.

If you purchase the book and quiz from the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (800-284-3937), the cost is $175 for the text and the exam (online). The text is $130 by itself, and the exam is $75 by itself. Apparently a paper exam is no longer available.

Helpful Tip: Someone in your office or circle of friends may already have this book. If you can borrow the book, then you will only have to purchase the online exam. You may also be able to find a used version of the text by searching online. The book is updated periodically, so be sure to purchase an edition that is close to the most recent edition.

Option 2: "JCAHPO Career Advancement Tool: An Independent Study Course (JCAT)"

This package is provided by the Joint Commission. It consists of the textbook "Ophthalmic Assistant, by Stein and Freeman, 10th Edition" (the "ophthalmic assistant book") and a quiz. When purchase from the Joint Commission, the text and quiz are $115. The text only is $90, and the quiz only is $35. You now have the option of a paper exam or an online exam.

Helpful Tip: Someone in your office or circle of friends may already have this book. If you can borrow the book, then you will only have to purchase the exam from the Joint Commission. Call them for an order form (800-284-3937). You may also be able to find a used version of the text by searching online. The book is updated periodically, so be sure to purchase an edition that is close to the most recent edition.