Certified ophthalmic technicians (COT) are an integral part of the eye care team working with ophthalmologists, patients and families in a growing yet still relatively unknown health care career path. The USC OTEP will create highly skilled allied health professionals who guide patients and families on understanding their vision conditions, ensure compliance with treatment protocols and conduct various tests and procedures that inform ophthalmologists in the diagnosis and treatments of eye diseases and vision conditions. The 21-month program includes academic coursework as well as clinical setting training from experts at the USC Roski Eye Institute, a Top 10 nationally ranked ophthalmology program by U.S. News and World Report for more than 20 years. "Vision health requires a team of experts working collaboratively and certified ophthalmic technicians combine the clinical, managerial and social components needed for the optimum eye care patient experience," says Joseph Cocozza, assistant professor of research at USC Roski Eye Institute and co-director of the OTEP program. "Our program brings needed training to California and helps to address the shortage of health care professionals, especially for older eye care patients. It also offers an attractive career path for our nation's veteran population." "Our program offers students an unprecedented educational experience not only working alongside some of the nation's top vision experts at USC Roski Eye Institute but also gaining the hands-on training from our USC ophthalmologists at one of the busiest trauma centers in the country through our exclusive affiliation with L.A. County+USC Medical Center as well as addressing pediatric eye health through our affiliation at the prestigious Children's Hospital Los Angeles," says Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, director of the USC Roski Eye Institute and dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "We're proud to bring this educational opportunity to students at USC and lead the West Coast on training the next generation of eye care technicians." According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a growing demand for ophthalmic technicians, especially with the increasing number of older Americans who experience visual impairment such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and other eye health issues. Research conducted by the USC Roski Eye Institute shows that the prevalence of visual impairment and blindness will double by 2050 based on aging U.S. population statistics. To learn more or apply for the Ophthalmic Technician Education Program (OTEP), visit: USCEye.org or click here to view the video.