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What is a Dispensing Optician?

The dictionary definition is:

A person qualified to prescribe and dispense glasses and contact lenses, to make and supply glasses and contact lenses

Doesn’t tell you much, does it? Unfortunately, a great many people are unaware of the role of Dispensing Opticians.

 

In 1985, the function of dispensing spectacles was de regulated except for children, partially sighted or blind people.  This was expected to be the demise of Dispensing Opticians but has turned out to be very far from the truth.  Our professional association, ABDO, has just gone over the 6,000 fully qualified membership mark and our college (yes, we have one of our own) has record numbers of students studying.  There is more demand for Dispensing Opticians than ever, with a shortage in many parts of the country.

A qualified Dispensing Optician has studied for three years to gain a first-class qualification and continues to undertake Continued Education and Training to retain this qualification.  We are trained in Optics – how light passes through the visual system, Ophthalmic Lenses – how light passes through spectacle lenses of different materials and design, Anatomy – specifically the bone, muscle and nerve structure of the head and visual system, Frame construction and materials – how they perform and fit.  Most practitioners work whilst they study, eventually taking several theory and practical exams.  It is in practice that we learn to fit and adjust frames and advise on the vast array of lens products available.

We spend all day meeting old and new clients, discussing their lives, occupations, hobbies and interests and then advising on the eyewear best suited to their needs, the lenses and coatings which can maximise their comfort and frames which look and feel great, enhancing faces and leaving the client feeling fabulous!

We must be creative and multi-disciplined, not only is it essential to be knowledgeable and up to date with the technical aspects of our profession, we must be good listeners, caring, honest, adaptable and problem- solving. We are often the first port of call when a client is experiencing difficulties with their vision or their spectacles and need to learn how to listen to the problems and advise the best course of action.

 

At Melina’s we have three qualified Dispensing Opticians:  Jane, Claire, myself (Catriona) and Jasmine, who is very nearly there, she is in fact sitting her finals as I write this article! We regularly have group discussions about new products, promotions and offers and how best we can help our clients get the best from their vision and enjoy their spectacles.

Personally, I’m glad to have trained and studied, all those years ago and I know my colleagues feel the same.  I enjoy the work I do, I love speaking to different people and advising them on the best lenses for their requirements.  Regular training events and conferences around the country keep our product knowledge fresh and informed. We even get to travel the continent, visiting international trade shows and suppliers, Paris last year and Stuttgart later this year… watch this space for more about this trip…

Catriona Stead

Written on 21st August 2018

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