Optician Job Description - Skills, Duties, Responsibilities and Career

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What Does an Optician Do?

Optician job description

An optician is responsible for designing, making, repairing and/or selling to the public spectacles, lenses and contact lenses, sports glasses and sunglasses, based on the needs of each individual customer. Opticians possess expert knowledge of the ophthalmic devices used to correct the most common sight problems, such as myopia (near-sightedness), presbyopia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism. Opticians use special optical machine tools to shape lenses and mount them in frames and are also responsible for issuing and signing declarations of conformity in accordance with the applicable legislation.

Opticians holding an optometry qualification may also work as an optometrist or ophthalmic optician, performing eye examinations, prescribing corrective lenses and referring customers to specialist consultants if they detect visual impairment or diseases that require the assistance of an ophthalmologist (or eye surgeon).

Optician skills and competencies

Opticians typically work in retail optical stores, either as the owner or as an employee, but they may also work for an optical instruments company, a manufacturer of ophthalmic devices, or a lens fitting laboratory.

Alternatively, there are a number of employment opportunities for opticians within the healthcare sector. For instance, opticians may work within a clinic or surgery setting as an assistant to or associate of another eyecare professional, such as an orthoptist or an ophthalmologist.

An optician working as a sale assistant in a specialist optical store will advise customers on the types of lenses available for sale in the store, illustrate their characteristics and recommend glasses frames to suit the customer’s facial features, with other duties including post-sales assistance. In addition to glasses, retail optical stores sell accessories for storing, looking after and cleaning glasses as well as solutions for cleaning, disinfecting, rinsing and storing contact lenses. In some cases, they may also sell optical instruments such as magnifying glasses, binoculars and telescopes. As this job involves regular contact with customers, in addition to technical expertise, opticians also need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be kind, courteous and helpful.

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Optician - Duties and Responsibilities

Optician tasks and responsibilities

The principal duties of an optician are:

  • Make corrective eyewear
  • Measure and check lenses to ensure they are free of defects
  • Cut the lenses and grind and polish the edges
  • Perform eye examinations
  • Provide technical assistance and support to customers with regard to lenses and frames
  • Repair or replace damaged or defective frames and glasses
  • Order lenses, glasses and other material for the store

How to Become an Optician: Education and Requirements

How to become Optician - Training

Aspiring opticians need to attend a training course or school for opticians in order to acquire the technical and practical knowledge and skills required to practice the profession. These include the physiology of the human eye and the visual system, visual physiology and psychophysics, ophthalmic optics, physiological optics, optometry, applied physics and optics, the use of optical laboratory and ophthalmic instruments for sight testing and diagnosis, and commercial aspects of the job.

In addition to technical training, a period of work experience or an apprenticeship in an optical laboratory or optical store is a very useful way of learning the trade and gradually becoming able to do the work without supervision.

Because the job an optician is subject to continual change and development, opticians are required to keep their knowledge up-to-date and ensure they stay abreast of the latest advances in ophthalmic devices and equipment.

Depending on the law in force in the country in which they live and work, opticians may also be required to pass an exam in order to be able to practice or else to obtain a degree in Optics and Optometry.

What Skills Are Needed to Work as an Optician?

Job vacancies for opticians typically request the following skills:

  • Knowledge of visual defects/anomalies and lense types
  • Experience using optical instrumentation
  • Good manual dexterity for mounting lenses in frames
  • Precision and fine eye for details
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills

Career Path and What to Expect

Optician career path

Potential career paths for an optician may include a subsequent move into a more specialist area, such as optometry or contact lenses. Alternative options include going to work in research and development or quality control for a company designing and manufacturing optical instruments and ophthalmic devices.

In the sales sector, meanwhile, the most common career path is to open up your own retail optical store, although it may also be possible to work as a freelance eyewear salesperson or sales agent.

Top Reasons to Work as a Optician

The career of an optician is an interesting and fulfilling professional opportunity for anybody with an interest in or passion for physics and optics. Since vision is an extremely important sense for human beings, opticians - whose primary aim is to help people to see better - have a very important role to play in the lives of the many people who require contact lenses or glasses to correct a visual defect and thus to be able to function on a day-to-day basis.

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