What is an Optician?
Registered opticians are specially trained to design, fit, and dispense eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and prosthetic ocular devices. They interpret written prescriptions from ophthalmologists (medical doctors) and optometrists (nonmedical eye care professionals) to determine the specifications of ophthalmic appliances necessary to correct a person’s eyesight. Some registered opticians also design and fit cosmetic shells and artificial eyes. Other registered opticians may grind lenses and design and manufacture specific spectacle frames and other devices needed by their clients. Registered opticians also keep records on clients’ lens powers and work orders; track inventory and sales; and perform other administrative duties.
Registered opticians recommend eyeglass frames, lenses, and lens coatings after considering the power of the lenses and the customer’s occupation, habits, and facial features. Registered opticians measure clients’ eyes, including the distance between the centers of the pupils and the distance between the surface and the lens. Some clients want to replace existing eyewear without seeking a new prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Registered opticians will then use a lensometer to record existing eyeglass measurements to create a new pair of eyeglasses with the same lens power. They also may obtain a customer’s previous record or verify the power of the lenses with the examining optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Registered opticians prepare work orders that give ophthalmic laboratory technicians’ information needed to grind and insert lenses into a frame. The work order includes power of the lenses and information on their size, material, color, and style. Some registered opticians grind and insert lenses themselves. After the glasses are made, registered opticians verify that the lenses have been ground to specifications. They are trained to adjust the eyeglasses, by hand or by using special tools to ensure the eyeglasses fit the client properly and comfortably. Some also fix, adjust, and refit broken frames. They instruct clients about adapting to, wearing, or caring for eyeglasses.
Contact Lenses, Cosmetic Shells, & Artificial Eyes
Some registered opticians specialize in fitting contacts, artificial eyes, or cosmetic shells to cover blemished eyes. To design and fit these devices, registered opticians measure the shape and size of the eye, select the type of contact lens material, and prepare work orders specifying the power of the lenses and lens size. In some cases, registered opticians prepare moulds of an eye, which is used in the manufacture of some of these specialized devices. This work requires considerable skill, care, and patience. Registered opticians observe clients’ eyes, corneas, lids, and contact lenses with special instruments and microscopes. During several visits, registered opticians show clients how to insert, remove, and care for their contacts, their cosmetic shells or their artificial eyes. Registered opticians do all this to ensure that the fit is correct.
Low Vision Aids
Many individuals who become visually impaired feel they must give up reading because for them a once enjoyable activity has become fraught with difficulty. Registered opticians, however, can help provide low vision aids to make reading easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. Specially trained registered opticians will consult with visually impaired clients and design the best system for that individual, their life situation, and their specific visual limitation. Devices can range from simple handheld magnifying lenses systems to hightech computerized or electronic systems. The number of individuals with visual impairment is growing and many will find registered opticians can serve their needs with this specialized low vision aids.