What does an Ophthalmic Dispensing Optician do?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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An ophthalmic dispensing optician helps patients select and fit eyeglasses. Dispensing opticians use prescriptions written by an ophthalmologist or optometrist when completing this work. An ophthalmic dispensing optician works closely with the patient to help select the eyeglass frames, lenses and lens coatings that will work best with the patient’s lifestyle.

An ophthalmic dispensing optician measures the patient’s eyes in various areas, including the distance between the pupils and the distance between the ocular surface of the eye and the lens. Using these measurements, along with discussing the patient’s occupation, hobbies and other lifestyle issues, the dispensing optician submits a work order to an ophthalmic lab technician. The lab technician interprets this information, grinds the lenses, and fits them into the frames.

If a patient has a pair of glasses already, and his or her eye sight has not changed, an ophthalmic dispensing optician can use a device called a focimeter to determine the prescription in the patient’s current glasses. The optician can then submit a work order for new glasses using these measurements. Once the glasses come back from the laboratory, the dispensing optician will test them to ensure that the prescription is correct.


When the new glasses are ready, the ophthalmic dispensing optician will call the patient back in, and fit the glasses to his or her face. The frames can be adjusted through gentle manipulation by hand or with pliers. During this fitting the dispensing optician will make sure that the glasses are comfortable and also ensure that the prescription works properly for the patient.

The ophthalmic dispensing optician can also do work on glasses that have been broken. He or she can adjust and repair damaged frames. A dispensing optician can also order replacement lenses for existing frames.

In some offices, the dispensing optician is responsible for office management as well. In cases like this, the optician must track sales and invoices and keep patient records. This includes records of what prescription a patient has, a copy of each work order, and how and when the patient paid for an order. In offices where a dispensing optician works as the office manager, additional training in business management is often provided.

Ophthalmic dispensing opticians also fit patients for contact lenses, although this requires specialized training. Proper fit is imperative for comfortable contact lenses, so the dispensing optician must be comfortable making precise measurements of the eye. The optician will also teach the patient how to insert and remove their lenses as well as how to clean them properly.


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Post 4

My son started out working as an ophthalmic dispensing technician and then trained to be a lab technician. This made him a valuable employee since he could fill more than one role.

They made glasses on site as long as they were a simple prescription. He enjoyed cutting the lenses and fitting them in the frames. This was a nice balance between working in the lab and still being to interact with the people who came in to have their glasses fit or repaired.

Post 3

Most stores who sell eyeglasses will service you whether you bought your glasses through them or not. There has been more than one occasion when I have been away from home and needed to have my glasses adjusted. I have been able to walk in more than one store where they adjusted my glasses for me without charging me anything.

Post 2

While I was in college I worked part time at a vision store where they had a complete separate section for those needing contact lenses. My job was to work with those who were wearing contacts for the first time.

Some people were pretty nervous about this and it took quite awhile for them to feel comfortable inserting and removing their contacts. For other people, the process was done within a matter of a few minutes. Most people are pretty excited about wearing contacts for the first time.

This was several years ago when the soft contact lenses were becoming very popular. We were connected to the eyeglass part which was also connected to the eye doctor so people could have all their needs taken care of at one place.

Post 1

I worked at an eyeglass store as an ophthalmic dispensing optician. This was a small business, so I also worked as the general office manager. I also worked closely with the eye doctor who was on site.

This could be quite hectic on days that we were really busy, but it also gave me a lot of experience in working with people and running an office.

This was a job that I really enjoyed as it gave me the chance to work with people in selecting the best eyeglasses for them. Some people came in knowing exactly what they wanted, and others had no clue.

I found the job to be both challenging and rewarding. When I was able to help someone find a pair of glasses they felt comfortable and confident wearing, it made my day.

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