Dispensing opticians make up prescriptions from optometrists (ophthalmic opticians) and ophthalmologists (eye surgeons). They may fit and supply spectacles, contact lenses and other optical appliances. Dispensing opticians do not examine eyes.
Dispensing opticians use apparatus to measure clients for optical aids. The work involves the calculation of distances and angles in relation to types of lens. They advise people on types of lens, such as single vision or bifocal, and on frames, which include style, weight and colour.
Opticians also give advice on colour vision, lighting, and the advantages of various optical aids. Many undertake further training to fit and supply contact lenses.
Selling is an important part of the work.
When an ophthalmic optician and a dispensing optician work in partnership, it is generally the dispensing optician who looks after the management of the practice.
Dispensing opticians usually work five days a week, including Saturdays. Part-time work may be possible.
Most dispensing opticians are based in a shop environment.
To work as a dispensing optician you should:
There are around 4,000 registered dispensing opticians in the UK. Some work in hospitals, a few teach, but most work in private practice. Opportunities are available to become self-employed. Many work in partnership with optometrists. Promotion opportunities vary according to the company. Many hold assistant manager posts by the time they qualify.
Smaller numbers are employed as consultants to lens manufacturers or as sales representatives selling ophthalmological instruments.
Vacancies in the Hospital Eye Service and as tutors in universities and colleges are very limited.
Registration with the General Optical Council is recognised in many countries abroad.
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