An optician is a member of the eye care industry who performs many responsibilities associated with the provision of comprehensive vision care by a number of different healthcare establishments. While most opticians are not required to be licensed in order to carry out their work activities, the majority of people employed in this profession do complete some form of training and certification. Individuals who are considering this field as a potential career path should have a basic understanding of the types of services they will be expected to offer prior to pursuing training or submitting employment applications. This approach will ensure that an applicant has selected a profession that they will enjoy and can remain committed to over the course of several years.
The vision industry is a unique branch of the healthcare system that employs several different types of providers who specialize in separate areas of eye care. Because ophthalmologists and optometrists have the education and training required to diagnose and treat medical problems, their time is not well spent dealing with the retail side of the business. For this reason, most facilities employ opticians who are the ones responsible for assisting customers with their eye wear needs. Although it used to be common for the optician to spend part of their time working within an in-house lens laboratory, many facilities have discovered that it is more economical to outsource laboratory work to independent organizations that are able to manufacture and deliver eye wear at scale. Today, opticians can expect to spend the majority of their time helping customers in the optical dispensary.
In most cases, the general workflow for an optician starts when a patient has just finished an eye exam and is looking to purchase a pair of glasses or contact lenses. Although the exam and the retail purchase often occur in the same facility, some patients choose to take their prescription to a retail establishment that is not associated with the medical center where they received their refraction. The first step for the optician is usually to collect eye and face measurements that will be used to find and fit a pair of frames that are the appropriate size. Many people who work in this profession have been trained to provide insight into the type of frames that resonate with the patient’s sense of style and taste in fashion. Most establishments have hundreds of frames to choose from that are made of various types of materials and that come with different features that are designed to appeal to some aspect of consumer interest.
Once the frames have been selected, the optician will walk the patient through the lens customization options that are available. There is a wide range of lens quality that can be produced using various types of new technology and it is important for the patient to make a selection based on their budget and desire for visual clarity. The top-tier lenses that are currently being manufactured can be expensive, but they also provide superior visual quality. Other customization options that may be offered include coatings and tints. A patient who has finalized their decisions for lenses and frames will usually be required to wait for the final product since it must be shipped to an independent laboratory for production. This process might take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the lab that has been contracted. Once the finished eye wear has been received, the optician will typically have the patient return to ensure a proper fit and to give the patient a chance to evaluate the quality of the work or request changes.
The process of helping customers select frames and lenses will constitute the bulk of the optician’s daily work responsibility. Additional tasks could include things such as inventory management, new employee training, conflict resolution, appointment scheduling, and frame repair. The exact details of the optician job description can vary substantially between employers and it is important for individuals considering this profession to thoroughly evaluate the employment contract before signing on with an organization. Careful review of one’s responsibilities can prevent conflict and encourage a productive workplace.