AskDefine | Define optician

Dictionary Definition

optician n : a worker who makes glasses for remedying defects of vision [syn: lens maker]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A person who makes or sells lenses, spectacles etc.


a person who makes or sells lenses, spectacles
  • Hungarian: látszerész, optikus
  • Polish: optyk

Extensive Definition

An optician is an eye care professional who provides corrective lenses based on a refraction prescription supplied by a ophthalmologist or optometrist. The lenses may be contact lenses, spectacles lenses, low vision aids or ophthalmic prosthetics. The corrective lenses are mounted either on the eye as contact lenses or mounted in a frame or holder in front of the eye as spectacles or as a monocle. The term "optician" is also used to refer to retailers providing the above services.
Like most health professions, opticians are regulated health care professionals. The profession is often regulated by profession specific agencies, as in Canada and some states of the USA, or jointly with optometry such as the New Zealand "Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board" or the United Kingdom General Optical Council. Opticians usually work independently from an optometrist or ophthalmologist although some opticians may work in a joint practice with other eye care professionals. Opticians convert a prescription for the correction of a refractive error into an ophthalmic appliance or device.
An optician will work with a client to find an ophthalmic appliance to best meet their needs. Opticians gather information from the patient such as the use for the appliance, level of activity, and eye and facial features. Opticians use a variety of instruments and equipment to fit and check the accuracy of ophthalmic devices.
Opticians may work in any variety of settings such as independent or joint practice, hospitals, eye care centers or retail stores. Opticians are accountable to the public through the licensing or regulating authority in their jurisdiction.
There is an increasing demand for glasses and contact lenses, so job growth should be average for dispensing opticians through 2012. The demographic of middle age and elderly people is expected to grow rapidly, creating more demand by new corrective lens users and those who require regular vision care.

Opticians in different nations

The duties and definition of an optician, together with the details of education and regulation, vary considerably from nation to nation.Scopes of practice, a document that describes the duties of a professional can usually be found on a country specific web site.


In India, opticians mainly sell spectacles. In recent years, some optical stores started offering eye examinations mainly for sight and employ optometrists who are qualified in optometry. But, it is still not very well organised and most optician stores either do not have eye testing facilities or performed by untrained or not well trained opticians. Refraction/ eye sight testing is still mainly practised by Ophthalmologists in their clinics and offices. Recently, big industrial houses like Tata and Reliance entered into the retail business of opticians. However, Opticians in India are basically traders who sell glasses, contact lenses with very few opticians providing eye examinations. But it appears that it is all set to change with the entry of big industrial players into the industry. There is also a lot of scope for improvement of services offered by these opticians as in the UK and USA like providing diabetic eye screening and glaucoma screening.


All opticians in Canada are required to complete formal training and education in opticianry and then must pass competency examinations prior to receiving governmental licensure. Some provinces (Ontario and Quebec) require a single optician's license that includes both the dispensing of eyeglasses and contact lenses, while the other provinces have two separate licenses, one each for eyeglasses and contact lens dispensing.

Provincial regulatory organizations

Each Canadian province has its own regulatory College or Board that provides registration or licensure to its Opticians. The Regulatory body (often known as a ‘College’ but separate from, and not to be confused with, an educational institute) has a government mandate to protect the public. This includes enforcement of provincial statutes (Opticians Act) and public awareness campaigns.
The National Association of Canadian Opticianry Regulators (NACOR) is an organization including all the provincial opticianry regulatory bodies in Canada (except Quebec). NACOR also administers Canada’s national opticianry examination(s). Since 2001, all jurisdictions (except Quebec) have agreed to and signed, the Mutual Recognition Agreement among Opticianry Regulators that ensures labour mobility to all opticians across the entire nation without need for further examination.
All provinces (with the exception of Quebec) require individuals to achieve a passing mark in a national practical examination as a requirement of licensure as an optician.

Provincial associations

Most Canadian provinces have their own provincial opticianry associations that look after the interests of their members at the provincial level, such as advocacy. Some provincial associations have a dual role or purpose, and also serve as opticianry regulators for that province. In addition to protecting their member's interests, provincial associations also undertake public interest initiatives such as providing vision screening for children in schools, or organizing professional development seminars.
Established in 1989, the Opticians Association of Canada is a national organization includes all provincial Opticianry Associations in Canada and looks after the various interests of opticians on a national basis. The OAC also offers/administers the NAIT Optical Science education programs in most of Canada. Prior to 1989, the Canadian Guild of Ophthalmic Dispensers fulfilled the role of the OAC.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, opticians are categorized as either ophthalmic opticians (known professionally as optometrists) or dispensing opticians. An optometrist carries out an eye examination to determine the patient's prescription and checks the health of the eyes. A dispensing optician uses the prescription obtained in a sight test and provides glasses. An up-to-date sight test prescription is needed to fit contact lenses. All ophthalmic opticians can fit contact lenses and some dispensing opticians who have specifically trained in this area can also fit contact lenses.
To become an ophthalmic optician or dispensing optician a person must obtain a degree in optometry followed by one year of apprenticeship.
Retail opticians in the UK were deregulated in the 1980s and are now dominated by a few large retail chains and some specialist independent opticians.

United States

In the United States, an optician, through testing, may be certified by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) to fill the prescription ordered by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. In some states (Oregon for one) licensing is not a requirement to make or dispense eyewear. Many eye doctors do their own dispensing, and it is frequent for eye clinics to have an optician on their premises; or, conversely, for large optical chains to have optometrists in offices on their premises.
Some opticians learn their skills through formal training programs. Professional technical schools and two-year colleges offer programs in opticianry. Two-year programs usually grant an associate's degree. One-year programs offer a certificate. Training usually includes courses in optical math, optical physics, and tools and equipment use. Other opticians can apprentice to learn the required skills. Many formal education programs will accept hours worked as an apprentice to supplement or replace course credits, as well.

Famous opticians

See also

optician in Danish: Optiker
optician in German: Optiker
optician in French: Opticien
optician in Dutch: Opticien
optician in Norwegian: Optiker
optician in Swedish: Optiker
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