What Does an Optician Do?

An optician is an eye care professional who provides corrective lenses based on a prescription for a refractive error. Corrective lenses may be contact lenses, spectacles lenses, low vision aids or ophthalmic prosthetics to those who are partially sighted. The corrective lenses are mounted either on the eye as contact lenses or mounted in a frame or holder in front of the eye as spectacles or as a monocle.

An optician will consult with a client to design an ophthalmic lens or appliance to best meet their needs. Opticians gather information from the patient on the use of the appliance, their level of activity, the necessity for protection from radiant energy or projectiles, and eye and facial features. In providing services Opticians are required to use a variety of instrumentation; these range from simple measuring devices to complex examination equipment. The list of equipment is often specified in jurisdiction specific Professional Standards of Practice. The standards of the College of Dispensing Opticians of Nova Scotia serve as an example.

Opticians specialize in the design, fitting, and dispensing of eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and prosthetic ocular devices. Using the initial prescription for the correction of refractive error they determine the specifications of various ophthalmic devices that will give the necessary correction to a person's eyesight. Some registered or licensed Opticians also design and fit special lenses to correct cosmetic, traumatic or anatomical defects these devices are called shells or artificial eyes. Other registered or licensed Opticians manufacture lenses to their own specifications and design and manufacture spectacle frames and other devices.

Opticians may work in any variety of settings such as independent or joint practice, hospitals, eye care centres or retail stores. However, registered opticians have to meet standards of practice and training, commit to ongoing education, hold professional liability insurance and are held to these standards by their respective regulating bodies.