Eye-care position receives new classification in occupational listing

The Standard Occupational Classification listing encompasses all three levels of JCAHPO certification: certified ophthalmic assistant, certified ophthalmic technician, and certified ophthalmic medical technologist, the organization said.

Key Points

St. Paul, MN-The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) announced in a prepared statement that it has received approval for a separate occupational classification, ophthalmic medical technician, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) committee.

“This is a historic milestone for the ophthalmic allied health profession,” said JCAHPO President William F. Astle, MD, FRCS(C). “Ophthalmic medical technicians are important in the eye-care team as ophthalmology becomes more technologically oriented and confronts the challenges of an aging patient population. This is a significant measure of how much this profession has evolved into its own, and [it is] an empowering validation of this occupation’s professional merit.”

Federal statistical agencies use the 2010 SOC system to classify workers into occupational categories to collect, calculate, and disseminate data, according to the statement. For an occupation to be included in the system, it must meet a required set of uniquely identifiable skills.

The JCAHPO also announced in a separate statement that employment of ophthalmic assistants and technicians remains one of the leading areas for job growth.

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate medical assistants and technicians in fields such as ophthalmology rank third on the list of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the United States. A 36% increase in employment opportunities until 2016 also is expected, according to the statement, and this growth will result in more than 150,000 new medical assistant jobs in the United States.

“In this period of economic uncertainty, it is critical that ophthalmic organizations take aggressive strides to ensure that the existing ophthalmic personnel shortage gains exposure,” said Dr. Astle, who also is Diplomate, American Board of Orthodontics. “We see these statistics as an opportunity to address several problems currently facing the eye-care industry.”

The number of adults aged 65 years or more is estimated to reach upward of 70 million by 2030, with senior citizens expected to outnumber teenagers by more than 2 to 1. The resulting upshot is that jobs for ophthalmic personnel will remain in high demand for the next several decades, the JCAHPO said.