COT: Studying Pharmacology

As complicated as pharmacology can be, learning the basics doesn’t have to be intimidating.

I began studying pharmacology by classes of systemic medications.  That knowledge in its self has given me a great head start.

ISBN-13: 978-1556427503

ISBN-13: 978-1556427503

The most helpful book to study from so far at the COA/COT level is Ophthalmic Medications and Pharmacology.

True, the knowledge within is readily available on the internet.  However, we really need to know at what level to study ophthalmic pharmacology in order to move beyond list memorization to understanding relevant material.

The complexity of pharmacology is exponential, so it is important to know when to have restraint when delving into specifics.  Free information online is available at the PhD research level.  At that point, no matter how respected the .edu or .org source, some “facts” are actually convincing theories which are still under peer review.

It is good to further research concepts to make them more clear in the context of ophthalmology, though pharmacology is still only 5% of the COT written exam.

I found Ophthalmic Medications and Pharmacology to be extremely helpful because it is written at my level.

The second resource I chose to challenge myself with is the JCAHPO/ATPO Refinement: “Update on Pharmacology II.”  A passing quiz score is worth one Group A CE credit.

It arrives in the mail as a 17-page workbook:

Refinement Worth1 Group A CEI have had success understanding this module because I have a solid foundation already from college.  Most people that have never studied pharmacology before would do best with working through the intro level module first.

To my delight, “Update on Pharmacology II” is about a notch or two more advanced than Ophthalmic Medications and Pharmacology.  A COT comfortable with the content in the book could still learn something from this more in-depth module.

The writer(s) and editor(s) did a nice job wording the material in an understandable way.  I’ve been going through that sucker with a highlighter and taking notes.

The wise thing to do would be to read the entire book first, then take the module to self-test the understanding of the material.

I’m pretty sure that once I’m ready to mail in the quiz, I’ll know enough to do well on the pharmacology portion of the COT.

I’m most definitely glad that JCAHPO lets us take our time to submit answer sheets to the modules because I will be taking advantage.

Another handy ophthalmic pharmacology reference is Pocket Companion to Clinical Ocular Pharmacology Fourth Edition, by Jimmy D. Bartlett and Siret D. Jaanus.

ISBN: 0-7506-7344-3I was lucky to find this version of the content because I believe the textbook is was made to accompany is one of those $400 optometry books from an accredited college.  Like many academic books, the publisher is Butterworth Heinemann, an imprint of Elsevier Science.  Also, it is lab coat pocket-sized, which is a dead give away.

The handbook includes typical treatments for ophthalmic diseases according to their pharmacological therapies, as well.

The level is more advanced than the COT, but would suit an ophthalmic resident, optometry student, or COMT, depending on the depth of knowledge required for them to examine patients.

It’s an interesting book and I found it for about $20 on  However, I haven’t used their service in over a year because I sold a book to someone who claimed they never received it.  After that experience, I branched out to, which have quicker deliveries, anyway.  The book prices on are competitive with, so they are a better deal price-wise and for convenience. is a GREAT place to start when purchasing outside JCAHPO/ATPO.  A list of books from several websites will pop up after a search.  You can search by ISBN or even key words.  I used them all through college to compare prices and have been very happy with their service.

The Ophthalmic Assistant and Eye Technician Study Notes have pharmacology sections, as well.  Even though they offer an intro-level foundation to their material, the content is still different enough from the other books to be helpful.  These two are always where  I would start before reading further.

Also, don’t forget the flash cards!

ATPO may not give away the actual exam questions, but they made the flash cards with knowledge of typical questions on the COT, so they are invaluable for self-assessment.


One thought on “COT: Studying Pharmacology

  1. Thanks for sharing! There are so many resources out there, this really helps me narrow down my choices. For flash cards, I’d recommend some Pharmacology ones that I found in the app store. While not the only think you’ll need to study, they certainly helped with memorization. Thanks again for the post.

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