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Orthoptic Program

An Education in Orthoptics at the Ross Eye Institute

The Ross Eye Institute is home to an Orthoptic Program, fully accredited by the American Orthoptic Council (AOC). The two-year course of study runs from September through August, year-round. Full time attendance, Monday through Friday is required, with 3 weeks of vacation per year. Successful graduates earn a Certificate of Completion from the Department of Ophthalmology, and are then qualified to sit for the national Board Examinations, given by the AOC. These examinations consist of a written exam, an oral exam, and a practical exam. Those candidates successfully passing the board exams earn national certification, and are entitled to use the designation “C.O." (Certified Orthoptist). They are also invited to join the American Association of Certified Orthoptists (AACO), a dynamic and active professional organization.

Kyle Arnoldi, C.O., C.O.M.T. - Program Director
James D. Reynolds, M.D. - Medical Director

The study of orthoptics follows a logical sequence of courses vital to the understanding of the visual system, combined with hands-on supervised clinical practice. Didactic studies include anatomy and physiology of the eye, anatomy of the central and peripheral nervous system, physiology and kinematics of eye movement, principles of visual perception, basic ophthalmic exam techniques, pharmacology, ophthalmic optics, diagnostic testing, orthoptic treatment, systemic disease affecting the eye, and principles of eye surgery. Though the majority of the internship is focused on pediatric ophthalmology, course work in adult neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics, external diseases of the eye, and low vision are also presented. Students are required to design, complete, and present a clinical research project. Students are also required to attend one regional or national AACO-sponsored scientific meeting per year.

Advanced Standing
Those individuals with education or experience in ophthalmology may be eligible for advanced standing status, provided they meet the other admission criteria. JCAHPO certified ophthalmic medical personnel are required to have credentialing at the C.O.M.T. level in order to be eligible for advanced standing in this Program. Advanced standing students may complete an orthoptic program in less than the full 24 months, but no less than 12 months. Advanced standing is granted on an individual basis after a personal interview (mandatory), completion of a written placement exam, and pending approval by the AOC. The length of the Program for advanced standing students is at the discretion of the Program Director. Though advanced standing may be granted, the Program and Medical Director reserve the right to extend the length of the Program for students having difficulties with the clinical or academic material.

Applications from Non-U.S. Citizens
The REI Orthoptic Program can not accept applications from those who are not U.S. Citizens, unless the applicant has a Green Card. It is extremely difficult to obtain a student visa to study orthoptics in the United States.

Tuition for the full 2-year program is $3,000 USD. The student is financially responsible for all living expenses during training. Students are also required to attend one regional or national scientific meeting per year, and are responsible for all travel and expenses incurred. Students in orthoptic programs do not usually qualify for student loans. However, partial scholarships based on need and merit are available for orthoptic training from the Joint Commission on Allied Health in Ophthalmology Education and Research Foundation. For more information on scholarships, contact:

JCAHPO Education and Research Foundation
2025 Woodlane Drive
St. Paul, MN 55125-2995

The Costenbader Society, a professional organization of pediatric ophthalmologists, offers a loan to qualified orthoptic students. Two loans, totaling $10,000 each, are awarded each year. For more information on the loan, go to www.orthoptics.org, the website of the American Association of Certified Orthoptists.

Application & Admissions
The REI Orthoptic Program invites applications from November 1st through March 31st from qualified individuals. The REI Orthoptic Program admits a maximum of two students per year. Applicants are required to have earned a baccalaureate degree before entering the Program. A background in the sciences is recommended, but not required. To apply, candidates must complete and submit an application, official academic transcripts, three letters of recommendation from teachers, professors, or former employers, and a personal autobiographical statement, written in the handwriting of the applicant. Qualified applicants will be invited for an interview. Applicants from out of state may request a phone interview, but preference will be shown those who complete an on-site personal interview. For more information on the REI Orthoptic Program, contact:

Kyle Arnoldi, C.O., C.O.M.T.
Program Director
Ross Eye Institute
1176 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14209
(716) 881-7914
(716) 887-2991 fax

Click here to download an application.



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