Currently, 20% of optometry graduates serve a residency after receiving their O.D. degree and license. Most residencies involve medical optometry. In 2005, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) established the Advanced Competence in Medical Optometry (ACMO) written examination to document competence in this specialty.

Recently, the American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry (ABCMO) was formed to serve as the national certifying board for those completing an accredited medical optometry residency, passing ACMO, and practicing medical optometry for a minimum of two years.

The process leading to ABCMO certification is equivalent to that required in medicine, osteopathy and dentistry to become certified in a specialty. Because the chief recruiters of residency-trained optometrists are healthcare facilities, medical and optometry group practices, and teaching institutions familiar with traditional board certification of specialists, ABCMO certification will assist optometrists seeking appointment to the medical staff at these locations.

Within the healthcare accreditation system, board certification signifies postgraduate residency training in a specialty, passage of a written examination in the specialty, and certification by a specialty board. Thus, ABCMO certification differs from the American Board of Optometry (ABO) certification because ABCMO certifies advanced, specialized competence rather than “continued” or “maintained” competence in general practice. 

Optometrists meeting ABCMO requirements will possess board certification on par with those of medical, osteopathic and dental specialists at accredited healthcare facilities, and will be required to re-document competence every seven years. For more, go to