Optical technicians assemble, repair and design various parts of eyewear such as lenses, frames, patterns and eyewear. They cut, inspect, mount and polish all parts using various machinery and hand tools. Optical technicians shape, grind and coat lenses for prescription eyewear. They fit completed lenses into eyeglass frames. Optical technicians ensure that lenses conform to the dispensing optician’s, specialised doctor in ophtalmology’s or optometrist’s prescriptions. They may also work with other associated optical instrumentation and its maintenance.
The duties of an optical technician include, but are not limited to:
- Administering vision tests to patients based on their medical history or other factors that may affect vision
- Performing basic tasks such as cleaning equipment, preparing examination rooms, and sterilizing equipment
- Preparing patients for exams by fitting them with contact lenses or other assistive devices such as glasses or goggles
- Performing examinations to test patients’ vision acuity, depth perception, color vision, peripheral vision, and other visual abilities
- Maintaining patient records with information about their eye health history and current status
- Conducting diagnostic tests such as visual field tests or retinal photography to assess eye health or detect disease in patients with symptoms of vision problems
- Providing patients with information on eyeglass frames and lenses, as well as helping them choose frames that fit their face shape and style preferences
- Explaining treatment options to patients who need vision correction surgery or examinations for conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts
- Helping patients select frames, lenses, contact lenses, and other products for their vision needs
The following job titles also refer to optical technician:
optical laboratory production technician
eye glass cutter
contact lens maker
optical instrument technician
technologist in ophthalmic laboratory
technician in ophthalmic laboratory
optical drill operator
ophthalmic laboratory technician
optical lab mechanic
optical lab inspector
ophthalmic laboratory technologist
specialist optical production technician
optical element coater
technician in optical production laboratory
artificial glass eye maker
technician in optical production
eyewear quality inspector
artificial plastic eye maker
certified optical technician
artificial eye maker
Optical technicians work in optometrists’ offices, hospitals, and clinics. They usually work a regular 40-hour week, but may work evenings or weekends to accommodate patients’ schedules. They spend most of their time on their feet, working with patients and handling optical instruments and other equipment.
Because they work closely with the public, optical technicians must have good people skills and be able to deal tactfully with a wide variety of people. They must also be able to handle the stress of working in a fast-paced environment and be able to take direction from the optometrist.
Optical technicians are typically required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some optical technicians choose to pursue a two-year associate degree in optometry technology. This degree program includes courses in biology, chemistry, physics and anatomy.
Most optical technicians will receive on-the-job training from their new employers. This training will familiarize the technician with the clinic’s computer systems, patient records and appointment scheduling. The training may also cover the clinic’s policies and procedures.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Optical technician is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Optical technician career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to optical technician.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of optical technician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of optical technician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of optical technician.
- Production processes: Materials and techniques required in the production and distribution processes.
- Characteristics of products: The tangible characteristics of a product such as its materials, properties and functions, as well as its different applications, features, use and support requirements.
- Optical glass characteristics: The characteristics of optical glass such as refractive index, dispersion, and chemical properties.
- Types of optical instruments: Possess information on the types of optical instruments and lenses, such as microscopes and telescopes, as well as on their mechanics, components, and characteristics.
- Manufacturer’s recommended price: The estimated price the manufacturer suggests the retailer to apply to a product or service and the pricing method through which it is calculated.
- Product comprehension: The offered products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.
- Characteristics of services: The characteristics of a service that might include having acquired information about its application, function, features, use and support requirements.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of optical technician.
- Sell optical products: Sell glasses and sunglasses, contact lenses, spectacles, binoculars, cleaning kits and other eye-related products, according to customer’s needs in terms of optical requirements such as bi-focals, varifocals and reactolite.
- Handle contact lenses: Demonstrate how to insert, remove and care for contact lenses; ensure that contact lenses will fit correctly and feel comfortable.
- Maintain relationship with suppliers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with suppliers and service providers in order to establish a positive, profitable and enduring collaboration, co-operation and contract negotiation.
- Operate precision measuring equipment: Measure the size of a processed part when checking and marking it to check if it is up to standard by use of two and three dimensional precision measuring equipment such as a caliper, a micrometer, and a measuring gauge.
- Smooth glass edges: Use automated abrasive belts to smooth or shape glass edges.
- Prepare work orders for the optical laboratory: Prepare and oversee work scheme and day-to-day activities for the optical laboratory.
- Perform technical tasks with great care: Avoiding possible risks and unwanted outcomes by watching carefully over all parts of a machine, device or vehicle and executing processes of production, maintenance or repair with great care.
- Operate optical measuring equipment: Operate optical measuring equipment to take client’s measurements; determine bridge and eye size, papillary distance, vertex distance, optical eye centres, etc., in order to manufacture customised eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- Manipulate glass: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of glass.
- Operate optical equipment: Use specific optical machinery in order to cut, polish, adjust and refine optics.
- Perform frames’ repairs: Repair/replace damaged frames or glasses for customers.
- Comply with optical prescriptions: Interpret and coordinate frames and eye measurements in accordance with the customer’s optical prescriptions.
- Apply a protective layer: Apply a layer of protective solutions such as permethrine to protect the product from damage such as corrosion, fire or parasites, using a spray gun or paintbrush.
- Cut lenses for eyeglasses: Shape and cut lenses to fit into frames for eyeglasses, according to prescriptions or specifications.
- Perform maintenance on eyewear: Conduct repair activities on eyewear, such as calibration, alignment and adjustments or replacement of frames, lenses and other parts.
- Maintain records of clients’ prescriptions: Keep records of customers’ prescriptions, payments and work orders sent to the laboratory.
- Smooth glass surface: Smooth glass or lens surfaces of optical instruments with grinding and polishing tools, such as diamond tools.
- Clean glass surfaces: Use cleaning products to clean any surface covered by glass, especially windows.
- Order optical supplies: Order optical equipment and materials, paying attention to the price, quality, and suitability of the supplies.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of optical technician. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Manufacturing processes: The steps required through which a material is transformed into a product, its development and full-scale manufacturing.
- E-procurement: The functioning and methods used to manage electronic purchases.
- Optics: The science that studies the elements and reaction of light.
- Characteristics of faces: The various typologies and forms of faces in order to advise customers on the most suitable types of glasses.
- Eye protection regulations: Eye protection regulations and relevant standards in relation to occupational visual requirements.
- Supply chain principles: Characteristics, operations and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to the customer.
- Optical instruments: The characteristics and usage of optical instruments such as lens-meter, to determine refractive power of lenses such as glasses.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of optical technician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Dispense corrective lenses: Dispense eyeglasses and contact lenses according to doctors’ prescriptions.
- Verify lenses compliance: Verify that lenses are according to the specifications.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Use CAD software: Use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation of a design.
ISCO group and title
3254 – Dispensing opticians
- Optical technician – ESCO
- What Is an Optometric Technician? – True Eye Experts
- Optometric Technician Job description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
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