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What is an Optician?

They adjust your glasses and fix your broken screws. They can transform the ill-fitting, poorly-made glasses you purchased on ebay into something wearable (free of charge, at that). They can even fit you with an artificial eye! But where do these wizards learn their skills? Let’s just say it can’t be done without a LOT of passion and dedication. Here’s a little background on what it takes to become a licensed Optician.

So what is an Optician?

An Optician is a vision expert; a health professional specially trained to supply, prepare, and dispense optical appliances through interpretation of written prescriptions. An Optician is an integral part of the vision care experience. They adhere to exacting standards in order to enhance and perfect your vision.

What is the difference between an Optician, Optometrist, and Ophthalmologist?

Optician: A professional in the field of finishing and fitting eyeglass lenses, frames, and contact lenses. An optician turns your doctor's prescription into the glasses or contact lenses you need to make your vision the best it can be. An optician may also dispense low vision aids and artificial eyes.

Optometrist: A Doctor of Optometry is trained to examine eyes for vision problems, as well as diagnose and correct vision problems through eyeglasses, contact lenses, other optical aids or exercises. After an eye examination, an Optometrist provides a written prescription, which you may then take to your Optician.

Ophthalmologist: An Ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of eyes and related systems. An Ophthalmologist may prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to improve vision. They may also prescribe medicines or surgery to restore eye health. Like Optometrists, Ophthalmologists also provide a written prescription after an eye examination, which you may take to your Optician.

Two examinations are required for licensure in ophthalmic and contact lens dispensing- a written examination and a practical examination.

Written Examination

The American Board of Opticianry's (ABO) National Opticianry Competency Examination, (or an examination determined by the Department to be comparable in content), is required for ophthalmic dispensing licensure.

Practical Examination

To take the New York State Basic Ophthalmic Dispensing practical examination, you must file an application for licensure, attain a passing score on the ABO written examination, and be approved for admission to the examination by the New York State Education Department.

The process of becoming a licensed Optician or Ophthalmic Dispenser can be rigorous and challenging. It requires dedication, passion, and many hours of practice. So next time you see your Optician, be sure to give them a pat on the back and thank them for all that they do to keep you seeing happy.




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