VISION CARE

Vision care encompasses several exciting healthcare careers with expanding job opportunities. Three areas of particular interest are dispensing opticians, ophthalmic medical assistants, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians.

WORK ENVIRONMENT

Dispensing opticians and ophthalmic medical assistants interact directly with customers and need good interpersonal skills. Laboratory technicians have very limited contact with the public. All work is done in pleasant surrounding and a great deal of time standing may be required.

CAREER OUTLOOK

The number of people who work in these areas is smaller than many other healthcare professions. While the number of new jobs is not expected to be large, the profession as a whole is expected to experience job growth matching expected rates for all other professions.

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OF THE FOLLOWING TOPICS BELOW:
   
  DISPENSING OPTICIAN
  OPHTHALMIC MEDICAL ASSISTANT
  OPHTHALMIC LABORATORY TECHNICIAN

DISPENSING OPTICIAN

Fitting patients with eyeglasses and contact lenses is the focus of dispensing opticians. In fulfilling this role, they follow prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists. Among their job responsibilities are the following:

  1. Examining written prescriptions to determine lens specification
  2. Taking measurements of the distance between the centers of the pupils and the distance between the eye surface and the lens to determine the proper size of eyeglasses
  3. Recommending eyeglass frames, lenses, and lens coating that are appropriate for the written prescription
  4. Helping customers select appropriate frames
  5. Preparing work orders for ophthalmic laboratory technicians with instructions for grinding and inserting the lens in the framework
  6. Inspecting and adjusting the finished eyeglasses
  7. Measuring eye shape and size for clients wishing to wear contact lenses rather than eyeglasses
  8. Suggesting the type of contact lenses and preparing work orders specifying the prescription and lens size
  9. Fitting contact lenses under the supervision of an ophthalmologist or optometrist if permitted by state regulations
  10. Keeping records on customer prescriptions, work orders, payments, inventory, and sales

Dispensing opticians also fix, adjust, and refit broken frames as well as educate clients regarding care of the eyeglasses or contact lenses.

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OPHTHALMIC MEDICAL ASSISTANT

Ophthalmic medical assistants administer diagnostic tests, measure and record vision, test eye and eye muscle function, show patients how to use eye dressings, protective shields, and safety glasses, and teach patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses. They also may assist ophthalmologists with surgeries and are responsible for maintenance of optical and surgical instruments.

For more about the role of medical assistants, see Certified Medical Assisting.

OPHTHALMIC LABORATORY TECHNICIAN

This vision care area revolves around manufacturing rather than dispensing. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians are known by many names ‚ manufacturing opticians, optical mechanics, or optical goods workers. No matter what they are called, they all focus on one objective ‚ making prescription eyeglass lenses. Some technicians also manufacture lenses for other optical instruments such as telescopes and binoculars. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians perform such tasks as the following:

  1. Reading the prescription specifications
  2. Selecting glass or plastic lenses and marking them to indicate where they should be ground to create the curves necessary to correctly focus light on the retina to improve vision as specified by the prescription
  3. Grinding the lenses with special machinery to achieve the desire curve
  4. Finishing the lenses to smooth out rough edges and polishing the lenses for a smooth, bright finish
  5. Verifying that the finished product matches the prescription
  6. Cutting the lenses and beveling the edges to fit the frame
  7. Adding desired coatings or tints followed by another polishing
  8. Assembling the lenses and frame parts into a finished pair of glasses

In large laboratories, technicians may specialize in specific areas of the production process, but in smaller laboratories they generally complete all stages of the work.

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