Continuing Education

Continuing Education Requirement Effective 1/1/2023:


  • Of the 25 hours:

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

    • 10 hours (minimum) must be "in-person live."

    • 10 hours or more may be “virtual live-interactive" courses

      • (only “in-person live” or “virtual live-interactive” can count as certified credit)

    • 5 hours (maximum) may be general credit courses, including:

      • live in-person or virtual live-interactive (non-medical courses)

      • correspondence courses

      • practice management courses (by mail or online)

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

For definitions of “Certified,” “In-person live,” “virtual / live-interactive,” “practice management,” and “correspondence,” see below.

: Instructor in the same physical location as the attendee*

DISTANCE: The course Instructor is not in the same physical location as the attendee

  1. INTERACTIVE: Live presentation where the attendee can interact (ask questions) with the instructor*

  2. ENDURING: Not Live and/or Interactive, such as webinars

(*) Qualifies for Certified Credit - if in medically related subject matter - see definition of certified credit


    • CC (Enduring) - The type of credit allowed for correspondence (self-study) courses is “General Credit”. 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 “General Credit”

    • 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.


The 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


Courses can be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) or other healthcare professions' 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;

  • Pathophysiology 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) shall be awarded twelve (12) hours*of “Certified Credit”.

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


  • Subject Matter: All other than above

  • Additionally Courses Classified as “Practice Management” (PM) and “Correspondence Courses” (CC/Enduring).

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