Basic ABO Optician Certification

The American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners is also known in an abbreviated form as the ABO-NCLE. It is a nationally recognized organization that issues certifications for opticians. The organization first started awarding certifications in 1976 and has become the industry standard in the field of opticianry. The ABO-NCLE is a non-profit organization that has established standards of excellence for those who work with and dispense eyewear. The fundamentals included in these certifications are earned by passing examinations that are considered to be legally defensible.

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ABO Basic Certification

The ABO Basic Certification is considered the starting point for those in the field of opticianry. This test is intended for those who work in an opticianry practice. There is no hourly or yearly amount of experience required to take this exam. This certification is the first step to earning advanced certifications that could improve the trajectory of one’s professional career as an optician. This certification is not the same as a license. It should also be noted that not all states require opticians to obtain a license. However, a certification from the ABO-NCLE can go a long way in securing employment. 

Exam Structure

The exam is structured in the form of a 125-question test that is two hours in length. It is a multiple-choice exam taken on a computer at a testing center. The ASO Basic Certification exam is given four times over the course of a year. The tests are administered on a quarterly basis in the months of February, May, August and November.

In order to take the exam, individuals must be at least 18 years of age and have acquired either a high school diploma or GED equivalency. A Government-issued ID is required upon entering the testing center and it is recommended that test takers arrive 30 minutes in advance. There are over 300 testing centers in the United States. Registration can be done online at the ABO website.

There is also a registration fee of $225. This payment is non-refundable. In the event that the date of the exam needs to be changed, there is an additional $75 fee. The ABO Basic Certification exam is designed to test one’s understanding of the application of opticianry topic areas, as well as the recognition of relevant materials.

Exam Preparation

There are numerous tutorials that serve as a benefit when preparing to take the ABO Basic Certification exam. These tutorials are available in workbooks, DVDs and practice exams. Regardless of which method is used, there should be some standard topics for review. Some of those topics include the following:

  • Properties and characteristics of lenses
  • Optical systems regularly used
  • Anatomy and physiology of the eye
  • Common eye conditions relevant to opticians
  • Legalities of opticianry

Preparing for this exam requires more than just the memorization of principles, anatomy and lens properties. There is also a need for the proper interpretation of test questions. This is where practice tests come in handy.

Studying the subject of Refraction should cover astigmatism, cataract, glaucoma, amblyopia, hyperopia and other conditions. Meanwhile, there is also a need to understand an optician’s responsibilities when t comes to legal aspects. This includes a firm understanding of the duty to warn, waivers and warranties and the most common causes for litigation.

ABO Certification Exam Topics

The Basic ABO certification features a variety of topics. The exam is divided into six sections, the first of which is Ophthalmic Optics. This is the largest of the six sections and accounts for 25% of the exam. The section includes topics, such as lens types, lens characteristics and materials, ophthalmic formulas. This section also features questions on calculating prismatic effects, measurement systems, lens options for various lifestyles and prescriptions.

There is also a section that comprises 20% of the exam and that centers on ophthalmic products. The topics included in this section have to do with lenses, frames, low vision aids and preassembled eyewear.

Another section accounts for 20% and that focuses on dispensing procedures. Some of the topics involved in this section are measuring, fitting and adjusting eyewear, in addition to understanding how to detail patient history. A section on instrumentation also comprises 15% of the exam and is highlighted by questions on dispensing instrumentation, the use of lens measurement as well as power measuring devices.

There are two more sections that are each responsible for 10% of the total exam. One of those sections centers on industry regulations laws, and standards. The other 10% section asks questions regarding the structure and function of the eye, in addition to refraction and pathology.

Those looking to study for the ABO Basic Certification exam should become familiar with several topics, which include a detailed understanding of the following areas:

  • Optical Principles
  • Lens Analysis
  • Multifocal Designs
  • Ophthalmic Frames
  • Lens Coatings and Materials
  • Industry Regulations
  • Instrumentation

ABO Certification Renewal

A basic ABO Certification is valid for a period of three years. In order to renew the certification, continuing education credits must be earned during that three-year period during which the certification is valid. Previous credits cannot be used if they were earned prior to receiving the certification.

There is a requirement of 12 credit hours needed for renewal. Half of those credit hours can be ABO-approved while the other six could be NCLE approved of the Ophthalmic or Non-Ophthalmic varieties. Opticians must also pay a renewal fee of $125. This fee must be paid before the date on which the certification expires.

Those who let their certification lapse will have to then complete reinstatement requirements to make their certification valid once again. There is no grace period as the three-year period is strictly upheld.