Ophthalmic Nurse

Ophthalmic Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
Ophthalmology is the area of medicine dealing with the care and diseases of the eye.  The ophthalmic nurse cares for patients with eye disorders.  Nurses who work in the field of ophthalmology typically work with ophthalmologists to provide patient care.

The eye care nurse provides some of the following treatments:

-Assists patients with eye examinations

– Prepares patients for eye surgery

  • Educates patients about good eye health
  • Assists with eye surgery
  • Conducts tests for eye disorders including glaucoma, cataracts, and eye trauma
  • Gathers information from patients

Eye care nurses offer care for patients with a variety of vision and medical problems that affect vision including glaucoma, cataracts, eye injuries, blindness, hypertension, and diabetes.  Nurses work with ophthalmologists to provide care before, during, and after routine exams and surgical procedures. Nurses must have excellent communication skills and must be able to work with all ages as patients may range in age from infancy to the elderly.

How to Become an Ophthalmic Nurse

Nurses who work in ophthalmology must first complete a nursing degree at an accredited university.  It is essential to first attain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN).  After completing your degree you must become a registered nurse.  This is accomplished by taking the NCLEX-RN exam.  Many of these specialty nurses further their careers by becoming certified through the National Certifying Board for Ophthalmic Registered Nurses (NCBORN).  This board offers certification for nurses meeting the qualifications and eligibility requirements.  To become certified through the board, nurses must pass a certification exam.

Ophthalmic Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

The eye care nurse should attain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN).  Make sure that your undergraduate work includes courses in ocular anatomy and disease.  After successfully completing your degree program, nurses must attain registered nurse status through examination.  A nurse who aspires to go into the specialty of ophthalmology may also choose to go on to attain a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) with a specialization as a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).

The National Certifying Board for Ophthalmic Registered Nurses (NCBORN) offers certification to nurses who meet certain qualifications and pass an exam. Eligible candidates possess two years or 4,000 hours experience working as an ophthalmic nurse. Once eligibility is determined, applicants sit for the exam that includes questions pertaining to ocular conditions, pharmacology, assessment and professional issues. The test takes approximately two hours to complete. Certification is not required. However, it formally documents competency, knowledge and skills in the field.

Practicing nurses may choose to join the American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses (ASORN).  ASORN fosters excellence in ophthalmic patient care, helping to develop nurses through education.  The organization is designed to assist nurses in continued education to provide high quality patient care.

Ophthalmic Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

As the number of elderly patients continues to rise, the need for all types of specialty nurses will keep going up as well.  As technology improves the ability to have successful eye surgeries the need for high quality eye care will increase.  Since ophthalmic nursing is not one of the most common areas of nursing, the need for this specialization will continue to go up.

Nurses with this specialty may work in a clinical setting, a surgical setting, or a combination of both. They can expect an annual salary ranging from $55,000 to $67,000.  Those nurses with more education and experience will typically reach the higher end of the salary range.  Nurses with NCBORN certification are most likely to increase their yearly salary, with a potential salary reaching more than $70,000 per year.