Frequently Asked Questions

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a process of voluntary, non-government self-regulation that recognizes educational institutions and/or programs that have been found to meet or exceed established standards of quality.

What types of accreditations are there?

There are two types of accreditation:

  • Institutional - covers entire institutions
  • Programmatic or Specialized - covers a specific program within an institution

What type of accreditation does ICA offer?

Programmatic or Specialized - ICA accredits training programs for the ophthalmic medical technician.

What levels of ophthalmic medical training programs does ICA accredit?

There are four different levels of ophthalmic medical training programs that ICA accredits:

  • Ophthalmic Non-Clinical Assistant Program
  • Ophthalmic Clinical Assistant Program
  • Ophthalmic Technician Program
  • Ophthalmic Medical Technologist Program

Is a program considered to be accredited if it has applied for accreditation or is in the accreditation process?


What are the outcomes for accreditation upon Site Visit?

  • 6 year accreditation: Full Compliance With All Critical Criteria
  • 4 year accreditation: Substantial Compliance
  • 2 year accreditation: Partial Compliance
  • Accreditation withheld: Non Compliance

What is a Critical Criterion?

An essential element of program performance for compliance with a requirement.

What is the difference between the CoA-OMP and ICA Standards?

The Standards are essentially the same with only changes to the hours and wording of some to clarify and make them less confusing.

When am I expected to be in full compliance with the new ICA Standards?

Programs are to begin implementation of the Standards with the 2019-2020 student cohort, and are expected to be fully in compliance at their next accreditation review.

When are the Annual Reports and Annual Fees due?

Annual Reports are due every year by December 1 (when applicable) and Annual Fees are due every year by September 1.

Annual Reports are due soon and there is not enough time to make changes to my program’s curriculum, what do I do?

We understand changes in an institution’s policies and processes take time to change. In the meantime, a program’s Annual Report should reflect that the program is working towards any changes required to meet the ICA Standards. There is no reason why a program cannot be teaching from one curriculum, while another one is being developed and approved, if the program is making changes. Once approved, it can be implemented at the next available time according to the policies of your institutions. As long as programs are working towards meeting the ICA Standards, they will not be penalized.

What are the minimum didactic requirements for a program?

It is ICA’s recommendation that the minimum didactic hours for a Non-Clinical or Clinical Assistant program are 80 hours.

What is the new curriculum to which I should be teaching?

Every program should conduct a needs assessment of their community, as well as refer to the forthcoming Appendix A, Required Didactic Curriculum and Guidance, to which their curriculum should be based. The ICA will not be providing a required curriculum. The forthcoming Appendix A will include required content areas and performance guidelines. The program is responsible for creating a curriculum that meets the ICA Standards. As long as the programs are working towards meeting the ICA Standards, they will not be penalized.

What kinds of courses can AOP teach?

Discipline specific or core courses may be taught by AOP if they are IJCAHPO certified and the subject matter is at or lower than their current certification. AOP may teach content related to systemic diseases, eye diseases, medical diagnosis, treatment, and surgical procedures if the instructor meets ALL of the following:

  • IJCAHPO certified at or above the level of the program, licensed optometrist, or certified orthoptist;
  • Approved to instruct the course by the medical director;
  • MD or DO played a role in the development of the course;
  • MD or DO reviewed and approved the course; AND
  • Focus of the content is on what the technician must know about the disease, diagnosis, treatment or surgical procedure. (e.g., recognizing features on an image consistent with a disease)

Please refer to standard 4.3 for more details.

What kinds of courses must be taught by an MD or DO?

Courses on systemic diseases, eye diseases, medical diagnosis, treatment, and surgical procedures.

Where can I find the minimum clinical hours requirements for a program?

Please refer to Standard 2.7

What are the criteria for a clinical site?

Please refer to Standard 4.8

My program has more clinical hours than the ICA published minimum. Do I have to reduce them?

Absolutely not. Your program’s clinical hours should reflect the amount of time required for your students to learn all of the skills required. ICA’s published clinical hours are a minimum number of hours to meet the standard and programs are encouraged to offer hours beyond the minimum to enhance their program.

Can I use an optometrist practice for a clinical rotation?

No. Please refer to standard 4.8 where it states that “Students must perform direct patient care under the direction or supervision of a licensed ophthalmologist.”

Can an optometrist supervise my students?

Yes. Standard 4.8 states that “Programs may utilize optometrists that are in an MD practice for these learning areas: optics, spectacles, refraction, and contact lenses.”

How many qualified instructional staff are needed at each clinical site?

There is no set number of qualified instructional staff required. Standard 4.10 states that “The program must maintain a sufficient number of instructional staff members to provide students with adequate attention, instruction, and supervised practice to acquire the knowledge and competencies needed for entry to the profession.” It is up to the program to determine this number at each clinical site factoring in all aspects.

Can my students accept paid clinical rotations?

Yes, but certain circumstances must be met. Please refer to Standard 6.6 for details.