Monday, September 25, 2017 11:44 AM
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Protecting and Enhancing Eyesight is the Job of Opticians

Opticians are specially trained to design, fit, and dispense eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and prosthetic ocular devices. They interpret written prescriptions from Ophthalmologists(medical doctors) and Optometrists (non-medical eye care professionals) to determine the specifications of ophthalmic appliances necessary to correct a person's eyesight.  Some Opticians also design and fit cosmetic shells and artificial eyes. Other Opticians may grind lenses and design and manufacture specific spectacle frames and other devices needed by their clients. Opticians are required to keep complete records on their client's eyewear, this enables a person to duplicate eyeglasses, contact lenses and other visual appliances without incurring unnecessary cost. 

Recently in British Columbia, the government announced proposed changes to the Opticians' Regulations that will allow Opticians who have received specialized training to conduct automated refractions (sight tests) and, based on the results, determine the power for corrective lenses for their client's eyeglasses. Although Opticians in Canada, particularly in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, have conducted automated refractions since 1996, they have done so under the nominal supervision of a physician. These changes, which will expand the scope of practice of some Opticians to perform these tests without the oversight of a physician, are not yet in effect.


Opticians recommend eyeglass frames, lenses, and lens coatings after considering the power of the lenses and the customer's occupation,habits, and facial features. Opticians measure clients' eyes, including the distance between the centers of the pupils and thedistance between the surface and the lens. Some clients want to replaceexisting eyewear without seeking a new prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist.  Opticians will then use a lensometer to record existing eyeglass measurements to create a newpair of eyeglasses with the same lens power. They also may obtain acustomer's previous record or verify the power of the lenses with the examining optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Contact Lenses, Cosmetic Shells, and Artificial Eyes

Contact Lenses, cosmetic shells and artificial eyes all come in contact with sensitive tissue of the eye. Opticians’ regulations reflect it is in the public interest for persons fitting these devices to have special training. Opticians who fit and dispense contact lenses and cosmetic shells have taken specialized training and undergone a rigorous certification examination.Opticians measure the shape and size of the eye, select the type ofcontact lens material, and prepare work orders specifying the power of the lenses and lens size. In some cases,  opticians prepare moulds of an eye, which is used in the manufacture of some of these specialized devices. This work requires considerable skill, care, and patience.  Opticians observe clients' eyes, corneas, lids,and contact lenses with special instruments and microscopes. During several visits, opticians show clients how to insert,remove, and care for their contacts, their cosmetic shells or their artificial eyes. At periodic intervals throughout a patient’s contact lens wearing life, opticians are required to check the fitting of the contacts lenses. Opticians do all this to ensure that the lenses and shells do not cause any harm to the eye.

Low Vision Aids

Many individuals who become visually impaired feel they must give up reading because for them a once-enjoyable activity has become fraught with difficulty. Opticians , however, can help provide low vision aids to make reading easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.Specially trained opticians will consult with visually impaired clients and design the best system for that individual, their life situation, and their specific visual limitation. Devices can range from simple hand-held magnifying lenses systems to high-tech computerized or electronic systems. The number of individuals with visual impairment is growing and many will find opticians can serve their needs with this specialized low vision aids.


Opticians prepare work orders that give ophthalmic laboratory technicians' information needed to grind and insert lenses into a frame. The work order includes power of the lenses and information on their size, material, color, and style. Some opticians grind and insert lenses themselves. After the glasses are made,Opticians verify that the lenses have been ground to specifications.They are trained to adjust the eyeglasses, by hand or by using special tools to ensure the eyeglasses fit the client properly and comfortably.Some also fix, adjust, and refit broken frames. They instruct clients about adapting to, wearing, or caring for eyeglasses.