Continued Professional Development in Optometry

The Continued Professional Development in Optometry (CPDO) exam is a self-assessment intended to assess practice-level knowledge and experience in ocular disease and related systemic conditions.

The exam offers the following:
  • Periodically assess licensed practitioners’ optometric knowledge regarding life and sight issues
  • Identify existing knowledge gaps
  • Provide direction toward lifelong learning programs based on interpretation of exam results
  • Provide continuing education credit when assigned by specific state board of optometry
    • North Carolina (NC) awards 12 hours of “certified credit” CEUs once every 2 years
    • North Dakota (ND) offers 12 hours of “therapeutic” CEUs once every 3 years
    • Michigan (MI) offers 12 hours of CEU once every 2 years

Candidates need only be licensed to practice optometry in any state or United States territory to sit for the CPDO exam, given that licensure classically implies that proof of graduation from an ACOE-accredited school or college of optometry and proof of passage of the NBEO® exams designated by the state of territory have been rendered and confirmed. There is no eligibility restriction based on having completed a residency or the number of years that a candidate has been involved in active optometric practice, though potential candidates should keep in mind that the exam content targets experienced practitioners.

CPDO candidates may practice at different levels across all areas of “life and sight” optometry. Therefore, the incidence and prevalence of the case ocular conditions, as well as the subtlety of the clinical findings, are of varied levels to accommodate the different professional experiences.

Since the CPDO examination is designed for seasoned clinicians, some relatively infrequently encountered disease subject matter topics are presented in this examination. Conversely, cases involving common, straightforward ocular disease conditions are equally valuable to the assessment to provide a wide range of exam material sophistication. The test material on the CPDO exam is carefully analyzed, reviewed, and updated.

Questions in this self-assessment primarily focus on the diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease. Some items may touch upon related systemic conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension, Graves disease) that affect the eye. Other items involve the clinical correlation of basic science principles.

Total # of Items Points per Item (Total of 160 points) Exam Segments and Length Test Time
20 patient cases
(3-6 items each)
80 NDA & Tutorial: 30 minutes Start and end time varies based on appointment at Pearson VUE
40 solo items 40 Session 1:3.5 hours
20 minicases 40 Break up to 45 minutes

    The exam is drawn from nine different disease conditions:
    • 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 and Trauma
    • Systemic Health

CPDO scores are broken down by the nine disease conditions to provide examinees with insightful information that can lead to logical, useful choices in continuing education (CE) subject matter. CPDO results are not made available to state boards of optometry without explicit instructions from candidates. When a candidate wishes to receive CE credit from a state board, the board is informed ONLY of the date the candidate took the CPDO exam. CEUs from the NC, ND, and MI state boards of optometry are granted independent of examinees’ results.