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What does an Optician do?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Opticians are eye care professionals who oversee the process of preparing the corrective lenses according to prescriptions provided by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. In some countries around the world, the optician may also diagnose eye problems and issue a corrective prescription as well. Generally, this type of health care professional must undergo some type of structured training and be registered or certified before offering services to the general public.

The optician is capable of creating any of the several types of vision correction devices commonly used today. This includes creating lenses to fit into a pair of glasses, making contact lenses, and even preparing various types of ophthalmic prosthetics to aid individuals with partially impaired sight. Often, the optician will take steps to ensure the patient is satisfied with the quality and function of the corrective lenses and may provide some type of follow up assistance as the patient adjusts to the new prescription.

In order to address various types of vision problems, the optician prepares refractive lenses to correct the vision issues associated with a specific patient. When properly prepared, the lenses will help a nearsighted person see objects at a distance clearly. A farsighted individual will be able to enjoy a clear view of objects that are closer and thus perform tasks such as reading a book or intricate needlework. In situations where there is a need to address more than one vision issue, the optician may also create lenses that are designed as bifocals and trifocals.

Choosing a career as an optician does require preparation. Basic training through an accredited program is considered essential in many countries. In addition, it is not unusual for graduates to undergo a certification process before being allowed to seek employment. Certification standards and procedures may be governed by a specific local agency or by a national agency. Failure to comply with the requirements set in place by the regulatory agencies can lead to revocation of the certification.

As with any type of healthcare career, the job of optician focuses on providing quality care to the patient. For this reason, the optician is likely to stay abreast of any developments in technology that would make it possible to more efficiently meet the needs of the patient, and assist them to enjoy the highest quality of vision possible. In order to accomplish this, it is not unusual for an optician to co-locate with ophthalmologists or optometrist so that the two professionals can communicate on the needs of a given patient.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Clairdelune — On Aug 14, 2011

In addition to the kinds of lenses that an optician can make that were mentioned in the article - single lenses, bifocals,trifocals, they also make progressive lenses, and tinted lenses that get dark and serve as sunglasses outside.

Opticians are usually good about helping you choose the type of lenses you need. They have taken time to explain progressive lenses to me - how you need to be careful going down stairs or off a curb until you get used to them.

Reading with progressive lenses also takes some practice. If you need some adjustment to your pair of glasses, they are more than happy to take care of that.

I think that most of them are well trained, but I don't know whether their certification is governed by the state they work in or what.

By LisaLou — On Aug 13, 2011

Being able to fit someone correctly with a pair of glasses can be very important. Making the glasses is only one part of the process that an optician should be qualified to do.

There have been many times when I buy a pair of glasses, only to find that after a couple of days they need to be readjusted. Many times I have tried to accomplish this on my own, but never get as good of results as I do when I have an optician adjust them for me.

It drives me crazy if my glasses are crooked or continually rub on my ear, and a good optician will know how to correct this. My glasses take a lot of wear and tear, so this needs to be done frequently, but at least when an optician adjusts them, they will stay that way for awhile.

By Mykol — On Aug 13, 2011

When I was in college I worked for a vision center and worked closely with the optician. This was my first real job out of high school, and I really learned a lot.

I never went through through the training to become a certified optician, but did help him with many duties that opticians will perform.

He was able to make most single vision lenses right there in the store and many times these were available the same day. If a person needed to have bifocals or trifocals, the process was much more detailed and precise.

I never cut or fit the lenses for a specific pair of glasses, but was able to watch the process from start to finish.

By browncoat — On Aug 12, 2011

@Iluviaporos - Well, most of the time the optician is more involved in making the glasses than in diagnosing the patient, so it makes sense that they'd want you to buy eye-wear.

One thing I think is worth mentioning is that most opticians or their assistants anyway, are happy to fix your glasses if you bring them in.

Often they won't even require a receipt, if the task is small. I tend to sit on my glasses and get them bent out of shape, and it can be difficult to bend them back, but they'll do it for you and tighten all the little screws as well.

Most of the time, they don't even charge you for it, so it's a good service to keep in mind.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 12, 2011

Opticians are almost always going to try and get you to buy your glasses or contact lenses through them, but if you can you should really shop around.

If you just go in for an eye exam, and remain firm about not buying glasses right away, you can use your prescription online to get much cheaper eyewear.

I think that it must be part of the job description now, for opticians to be salespeople as well as medical professionals.

They always seem so disappointed when I don't buy hundreds of dollars worth of glasses.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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