Board certified specialists in 31 medical and dental specialties along with 136 associated subspecialties are readily recognized by hospital credentialing committees and boards. By comparison, optometry has just 1 specialty and 0 subspecialties. Only optometrists who are board certified in Medical Optometry by the American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry (ABCMO) are recognized as specialists by Federal facilities, state licensed hospitals, teaching facilities, group practices and credentialing networks.
The recognition of the Specialty of Medical Optometry is a significant achievement for the profession of optometry. However, augmentation of subspecialties still needs to be accomplished. Furthermore, the specialties of Pediatric and Low Vision Optometry need to be further developed along with the creation of their respective certification boards. In order to facilitate the development of optometry specialty boards, and to ensure high standards for all specialties, the American Board of Optometry Specialties (ABOS) needs to be implemented.
The following outline is presented to facilitate discussion among optometry organizations.
Recognized Optometry Specialty and Certification Board
American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry (ABCMO)
Medical optometrists diagnose, treat and manage a wide range of conditions of the eye. They prescribe medications, diagnostic tests, eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Subspecialties of Medical Optometry (Need to be Augmented)
Cornea and External Disease
Subspecialty includes the diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases of the cornea, sclera, conjunctiva and eyelids. Includes the management of complex contact lenses cases.
Subspecialty includes the diagnosis, treatment and management of glaucoma and other disorders usually associated with increased intraocular pressure.
Subspecialty includes the relationship between neurologic and ophthalmic diseases. Manages local pathology affecting the optic nerve and visual pathways and the visual effects of traumatic brain injury. Includes the evaluation and management of problems that involve the afferent and efferent visual and visual-motor systems.
Subspecialty includes the diagnosis and management of various diseases that affect the retina and vitreous.
Specialties That Require Further Development and Establishment of Certification Boards
American Board of Certification in Pediatric Optometry (ABCPO)
The management of ocular motility disorders, strabismus, amblyopia, developmental and perceptual abnormalities in children.
- Achieve Diplomate status in the Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Optometry Section of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), or residency training, practice and examination as prescribed by the Specialty Board
Low Vision Optometry
American Board of Certification in Low Vision Optometry (ABCLVO)
Low Vision Optometry deals with the diagnosis and treatment of low vision. Management includes prescription of optical aids and other devices. Also, includes training and counseling of patients.
- Achieve Diplomate status in the Low Vision Section of the American Academy of Optometry, or residency training, practice and examination as prescribed by the Specialty Board
Subspecialties in Pediatric and Low Vision Optometry
They are to be augmented later after their respective Specialty Boards are formed.
Criteria for the Establishment of an Optometry Specialty Board
The specialty board issuing certifications in a specialty shall be an independent, not-for-profit entity with a board of directors and officers of up to 7 individuals of which the majority of voting members are licensed practitioners of the specialty and two non-voting members who will represent the public interest.
The board may have ex officio members representing the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the independent entity preparing and administering its national written specialty examination testing competence in the specialty required to apply for specialty certification.
The specialty may be a blend, mixture or concentration of one or more ASCO listed residencies, but preferentially have a major emphasis within one of the 11 ASCO listed residencies.
Specialty Certification Requirements (Example)
Specialty Certification in Medical Optometry Administered by American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry (ABCMO) Requirements
- Completion of a full-time, ACOE (or equivalent) accredited, postgraduate clinical residency training program having major emphasis on medical optometry.
- Passage of the Advanced Competence in Medical Optometry exam (or equivalent) offered by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.
- Documented significant practice of medical optometry for a minimum of two years immediately prior to application for certification.
Subspecialty Certification Requirements
- To become certified in a particular Subspecialty, an optometrist must first be certified by the parent Specialty Board such as ABCMO and then
- Achieve Diplomate status in a relevant American Academy of Optometry Section or Special Interest Group. Or, complete additional training as specified by the Specialty Board.
American Board of Optometry Specialties (ABOS)
The development and administration of all Specialty Boards to be overseen and assisted by the American Board of Optometry Specialties (ABOS).