Opticians assist customers who require vision tests, prescriptions, repairs, and, in some cases, minor eye surgery; essentially, they helps customers determine which prescription they require and assist with any other questions or needs that they may have. Opticians use a piece of equipment called an phoropter to measure the depth of vision that each customer has, and then they are able to determine exactly which prescription the customer needs. Other equipment is also used, including a tonometer, which injects a small amount of air pressure into the eyeball to test for glaucoma. All opticians should be familiar with this equipment, and some may also be able to operate laser surgery machines for outpatient correction procedures.
Opticians also work in an administrative capacity in the clinic office and perform various other duties in the day-to-day running of a clinic. Most opticians will work during traditional business hours, although this will vary depending on the clinic's hours. Traditionally, an administrative assistant handles customers' appointments, but it's not unusual for an optician to schedule appointments, particularly in a smaller business. In most cases, opticians work inside a clinic where eye exams are performed. Some opticians may also work at the laboratory where the prescriptions are created and modified. Some, however, may work out in the field, particularly during wars, where soldiers may need eye care but do not have safe access to an optician's clinic.
An optician typically works with two types of staff: administrative staff and laboratory staff. The administrative staff work with the optician to schedule appointments and resolve scheduling conflicts in a timely manner; they may also help with billing and other financial concerns patients may have. Laboratory staff create the prescriptions and sometimes the frames that the customer ends up receiving as the final product.
To enter this career, potential opticians must first have a bachelors degree in optometry, and should also be certified by whichever optometry board governs their area of practice. Experience is also helpful.
- Prepare work order for optical laboratory containing instructions for grinding and mounting lenses in frames.
- Measure patient for size of eyeglasses and coordinate frames and optical prescription.
- Design, measure, fit, and adapt lenses for patient according to written optical prescription.
- Adjust frame and lens position to fit patient.