Ophthalmic Nurse

What Is an Ophthalmic Nurse?

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine which focuses on ocular (eye) health. Ophthalmic nurses assist in preventing, diagnosing, and treating patients who are suffering from eye injuries or diseases like blindness, cataracts, glaucoma, astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, macular degeneration, scratched corneas, and more. These nurses work directly with ophthalmologists to treat infants, children, and adult patients. Generally, however, because our eyes are more susceptible to disorders and degenerative diseases as we age, most of the patients that ophthalmic nurses work with are elderly individuals. Some ophthalmic nurses will choose to work in a sub-specialty like pediatric ophthalmology.

What Are Some Ophthalmic Nurse Duties?

Some duties carried out by ophthalmic nurses include:

  • Assist surgical team during eye surgery
  • Carry out patient assessments before and after eye surgery
  • Conduct fittings for glasses and contact lenses
  • Instruct patients how to properly care for eye injuries or disorders at home
  • Collect patient medical histories
  • Evaluate and record visual activity and ocular functions
  • Conduct vision tests
  • Administer medications

Where Do Ophthalmic Nurses Work?

Ophthalmic nurses treat patients with eye issues in a variety of settings, to include:

  • Refractive (laser) surgery centers
  • Ophthalmologist offices
  • Eye care centers
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Eye banks
  • Research laboratories
  • Home health

How to Become an Ophthalmic Nurse

As of today, ophthalmic nursing isn't the most popular of specializations among nursing professionals. However, this means that the demand for ophthalmic nurses is higher than other specializations in the field. Those who aspire to become ophthalmic nursing professionals should obtain the necessary education as the primary step toward reaching their career goals.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Ophthalmic nurses begin their careers by first becoming registered nurses. In order to gain your license as a registered nurse, the first obstacle you must tackle is to earn a nursing degree from an accredited university or college. This can be either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN), although the latter is typically preferred by employers. While in school, if you're looking to specialize in ophthalmology, think about concentrating your studies on the anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology of the eyes. When you have earned your degree and passed the NCLEX exam, you then are eligible to become a fully licensed RN. The last step before you can obtain your Certification for Registered Nurses of Ophthalmology (CRNO) is to gain at least two years or 4,000 hours of hands-on clinical experience of nursing in an ophthalmology setting. After you have accumulated these hours, you're ready to go.

Do Ophthalmic Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Ophthalmic nurses will need to hold an unencumbered RN license and have some experience in the field in order to obtain a specialty Certification for Registered Nurses of Ophthalmology (CRNO).

Required Ophthalmic Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Aspiring ophthalmic nurses will eventually need gain the Certification for Registered Nurses of Ophthalmology (CRNO) via the National Certification Board for Ophthalmic Registered Nurses (NCBORN), which is an independently incorporated agency that's supported by the American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses.

In order to be eligible for Certification for Registered Nurses of Ophthalmology (CRNO) you will need to have the following:

  • A currently active and unencumbered RN license
  • At least two years or an equivalent of 4,000 hours of work experience in an ophthalmology setting
  • Have successfully passed the CRNO certification exam

Ophthalmic Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

As the elderly population grows, ophthalmic nurses and other professionals in the field are expected to be in high demand. Furthermore, because the ophthalmic nursing specialty isn't quite as popular as many of the other specialties in the nursing field, chances are that once you have the education and credentials, you won't have much trouble finding a position as an ophthalmic nurse.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Strong interpersonal communication abilities, deep understanding of the pathophysiological process of eye diseases and disorders as well as their treatment protocols, ability to work in teams, ability to stand for hours while assisting with operative procedures, empathy, coordination, and the ability to work well with hands.
  • Job Outlook - The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 16% growth in employment for RNs between 2014 and 2024. For those in ophthalmic nursing, you can expect a similar or higher growth rate in the same time span.

What Is the Average Salary of an Ophthalmic Nurse?

ZipRecruiter reports that ophthalmic nurses make an average annual salary of about $50,996. The salaries of ophthalmic nurses will vary widely and depend on the following factors: amount of clinical experience as an RN in the field, employing organization, location of employment (i.e. city and state), education levels, credentials, and certifications. Ophthalmic nurses who are employed full-time will enjoy benefits packages which normally will include medical, dental, vision, prescription, and in some cases life insurance coverage. Again, depending on the employer, ophthalmic nurses should also receive a few weeks of annual paid time off.

How Much Do Ophthalmic Nurses Make per Year?

  • $20,500 – $103,000 annually

How Much Do Ophthalmic Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $25.00 average hourly wage

Ophthalmic Nurse Resources