How One Can Become an Optician
An optician is a trained and licensed health professional who, based on a
prescription from an ophthalmologist and optometrist, designs, fits and
dispenses the following to help improve your eyesight:
• Contact lenses
• Low vision aids
• Prosthetic ocular devices
• Cosmetic shells
• Artificial eyes
Besides dispensing eyewear, this eye care professional also grinds designs
and manufactures eyeglass frames for customers. They maintain the
records related to a customer’s power and prescriptions and also carry out
administrative duties like keeping track of stock and sales.
Opticians are regulated and governed by stringent standards to ensure
that one’s vision is safely protected and that you receive the best quality
care. With age, comes the problem of less than perfect vision, making it
necessary to go in for a full eye examination followed by corrective lenses
to improve vision. Opticians are primary health care providers who play
the important role of interpreting prescriptions and issuing the right
eyewear using a number of tools.
Known as dispensing opticians, these professionals require specific
knowledge and training. While they do not write the prescriptions for
eyewear, they must know how to interpret them into what the client needs.
The procedure, education and training
An aspiring optician needs a high school diploma or an approved GED
equivalent after which comes the formal education and training followed
by an apprenticeship.
Step one is to enroll in the Ophthalmic Dispensing Eyeglasses Program at
an institute that offers the programs. These can be full-time, part-time or
home study courses and the duration may range from one to four years
depending on the mode of study. After completing the course, the student
can appear for the national licensing exam and after passing this exam; the
next step is to register with the provincial regulatory agency. Once
registered, armed with an ophthalmic dispensing license, the optician is
ready to dispense eyeglasses. If she so wishes, she can further her
education and enroll for a contact lens program and clear the national
licensing exam to become a licensed Contact Lens Fitter. In certain
provinces, the course includes both eyeglass and contact lenses. In these
cases, it is necessary to appear licensing exam for both separately after
completing the course.
The Optician’s responsibilities
The optician handles various duties ranging from helping clients select the
best eyeglass frames and customizing the frames to match their face. They
also know how to dispense the right type of lenses based on the customer’s
needs. For instance, someone working at the computer would need a
different type of glasses compared to a hardhat construction worker. This
must also take into consideration what the customer prefers and based on
these factors. They also offer advice on eye care, taking good care of the
glasses and on contact lens safety.
Opticians usually work with an optometrist or at an eye wear store, full
time, part time or on the weekends depending on the arrangement they
have. Those who are employed at optometrists’ or ophthalmologists’
offices invariably work regular hours.