Continuing Education

Continuing Education Requirement (updated 08/29/2022):


Additional Requirements:

CE Policy effective through 12/31/2022

  • 15 hours (minimum) of the 25 hours must be “Certified” Credit

    • Must be comprised of "live in-person" and/or "live-interactive" courses. Correspondence courses will not qualify for certified credit. See definitions below.

  • Board Approved Courses

    • 2021 : Jurisprudence course 2-hours "certified" credit. Required for all licensees in 2021.

    • 2019: Opioid course 2-hours "certified" credit. Required for all licensees in 2019.

    • *New licensees must take all above listed courses before their first renewal cycle. Available in Licensee Portal.

  • General Credit courses may contain up to 8 correspondence credits (by mail or online) and up to 4 practice management credits.

  • Lecturers are allowed a maximum of 4 hours annually for their own course(s).


Course must be fully accredited by the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education.

1. Course must be COPE accredited (COPE number)***

2. Event must have a COPE Event number***

3. Vendor must be an Approved COPE Administrator or Accredited COPE Provider***

*** Please contact ARBO for questions and details regarding COPE.


Courses can be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), or other healthcare profession's recognized accrediting body.


1. Course must be at least 1 hour in length

2. Course must be on Subject Matter as listed below:

    • Ocular conditions/disease

    • The diagnosis, treatment and management of systemic diseases that often present with ocular and/or vision side effects;

    • Pharmacology as related to topical and/or systemic medications;

    • Ocular side effects of systemic medications;

    • New procedures, instruments and technologies as they relate to the enhancement of patient care;

    • Ocular and systemic medications update;

    • Emergency care in the event of anaphylaxis including resuscitation;

    • Certification in CPR or ACLS;

    • Emergency care including re-certification in CPR and ACLS;

    • Patho-physiology of ocular and systemic disease; or

    • Advance procedures related to changing or expanded modes of practice in the practice of ophthalmic medicine.

Self-Evaluation / Examination.

Licensees taking examinations approved by the Board designed to assess Continued Professional Development in Optometry (CPDO) that meet the following requirements shall be awarded twelve (12) hours*of “Certified Credit”. The requirements include:

  • An examination that is a minimum of 3 ½ hours in length;

  • 50% or more of the items that are based on ‘case scenarios’ that include images as seen in optometric practice;

  • The examination content based on ‘life-and-sight’ threatening issues; and

  • An examination designed to identify existing knowledge gaps in the following areas through the use of comparative national stanine** scores:

    • Lids – Lashes – Lacrimal System – Ocular Adnexa – Orbit

    • Conjunctiva – Cornea – Refractive Surgery

    • Lens – Cataract – IOL – Pre-Operative and Post-Operative Care

    • Episclera – Sclera – Anterior Uvea

    • Vitreous - Retina – Choroid

    • Optic Nerve – Neuro-Ophthalmic Pathways

    • Glaucoma

    • Emergencies – Trauma

    • Systemic Conditions

* A licensee is limited to twelve hours (12) “Certified Credit” once every two years for taking examinations designed to assess continued professional development (CPDO).

Beginning 1/1/19 A licensee is limited to twelve hours (12) “Certified Credit” once every three years for taking examinations designed to assess continued professional development (CPDO).

** National “Stanine” scores. Stanine is a contraction of 2 words: standard and nine. To give Candidates a quick reference as to their strengths and weaknesses, the scores in the various content areas (e.g., glaucoma, neuro-optometry, etc.) are ranked from 1 to 9. The TOP performers (TOP stanine) are 7-9, the MIDDLE performers have scores of 4-6, and the BOTTOM performers score in the 1-2range. So, if one receives a score of 8.5 in glaucoma, he/she is toward the top of the TOP performing stanine. If one receives a 1.5 in neuro-optometry, he/she is toward the lower range of the BOTTOM performers.


1. Subject Matter: All other than above (i.e. contact lenses, low vision, sports vision, marketing, etc.)

2. Additionally Courses Classified as “Practice Management” (PM) and “Correspondence Courses” (CC).


CC - The type of credit allowed for correspondence (self-study) courses is “General Credit” and is limited to eight (8) hours credit in any calendar year. Further, credit for these types of courses will be credited toward the yearly requirement for the calendar year in which they were published/offered.

PM - Credit hours for courses classified and approved by the Board as “Practice Management” are limited to four (4) hours in any calendar year.

Online-Interactive (Live Interactive) - Online interactive COPE accredited education meets the requirement for “live ” education; however, the type of credit (general or certified) must still meet the Board's criteria.

New Licensees:

For those of you who graduated in the spring of the calendar year in which you have been licensed, the Board considers the time spent in your academic training as fulfilling the total requirement for the calendar year; however, all licensees will be required to fulfill the opioid course requirement. Those who are being licensed in a year other than the year of your graduation from optometry school, are expected to meet the total requirement.

COPE Optional Policy for NC State Optometric Society Districts

(in effect until December 31, 2022)

Each district must submit a completed course information form, found here: , no less than 7 days prior to the event. Upon receipt of the form and course outline, the board staff will review the documentation and respond with approval and determination of credit

Any courses submitted less than 7 days in advance will be denied approval of credit.

After the event, all attendance documentation must be submitted within 7 days


21 NCAC 42B .0303 (link)

For failure to comply with 21 NCAC 42B .0302 the optometrist is subject to disciplinary action by the Board pursuant to G.S. 90-121.2; provided, however, for a first offense the Board may require an additional three hours and for the second offense six additional hours of attendance at approved continuing education programs. Any penalty imposed will require that the additional hours be fulfilled in addition to the required hours for the ensuing year.

Adopted June 1, 1989

Amended March 22, 2014

Amended August 29, 2015

Amended November 24, 2015

Amended February 12, 2016

Amended November 9, 2017

Amended November 8, 2018

Amended November 7, 2019

Amended March 18, 2020

Amended August 29, 2022