What is an Optician?

Enhancing the Quality & Growth of Opticianry

What Does an Optician Do?

Opticians are licensed health professionals who fit eyeglasses or contact lenses, using prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists. Eyewear is the term used for eyeglasses, contact lenses and low vision aids. The profession of opticianry in Ohio is regulated and governed by the Vision Professionals Board to strict standards to protect your vision and ensure licensed opticians provide you the highest standard of care.

An optician performs the following tasks in fitting and dispensing eyewear.

  • Gathers eye use data from the patient (information about their job, hobbies, sports, reading habits, etc.)
  • Determines relationship between the prescription and frame design; and facial features and frame design.
  • Determines personal preference of patient for frames.
  • Advises on appropriate frames, based on prescription and facial features.
  • Presents frames and helps make selection.
  • Obtains patient’s previous records.
  • Records current information.
  • Copies prescription information onto the order form.
  • Verifies prescription against old records and with examining doctor if necessary.
  • At the doctor’s direction may perform vision assessment and other procedures.
  • Takes patient’s eye measurements.
  • Determines lens materials to be used.
  • Determines lens tint or coatings.
  • Completes order for forwarding to lab.
  • Check glasses when received from the lab for frame style, color, size, tint, coating, and quality of work; checks with lensometer for optical correctness; returns to lab if necessary.
  • Contact patient to dispense eyewear.
  • Checks fit and adjust glasses for comfort.
  • Conducts reading test.
  • Instructs on care and use of glasses.
  • Advises for follow-up care.

Follow-up Services

As follow-up services, opticians may adjust and refit glasses, repair broken frames, replace screws and broken lenses.

Contact Lenses

In contact lens fitting, opticians perform many of these same tasks, but also measures eye shape and size, select the type of contact lens materials and train the wearer in safely inserting and removing the lenses and in the proper cleaning and maintenance.

Where do Opticians Work?

More than 67,000 individuals are employed in optical dispensing in the United States. Approximately 10,000 own their own retail optical businesses and usually employ other opticians. Others work for ophthalmologists, or optometrists in their offices; are employed by large retail optical chain stores; or dispense eyewear in the optical department of large department stores or discounters. Finally, opticians may work for managed care companies that have their own optical dispensaries.

Professional Credentials

In Ohio, licensed opticians must have passed an exam after completing an associate’s degree in opticianry or a two-year apprenticeship program. Licensed opticians are required to have four to 12 hours of continuing education annually based on their type of opticianry license. Many opticians choose to be nationally certified by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO), or the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). These certifications are gained upon successful completion of examinations and are maintained by attending approved continuing education courses. Many opticians belong to professional organizations, such as the Opticians Association of Ohio,that provide continuing education, professional networking and career enhancement.

Who’s Who in the World of Eye Care


Opticians are eyewear experts, especially trained to interpret prescriptions, select lenses and frames and fit the eyeglasses, contact lenses or low vision aids to the patient’s specific needs.


Optometrists are doctors of optometry who are trained to examine eyes for defects in vision and to diagnose diseases of the eye. They provide a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct vision deficiencies.


Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in treating eyes. They treat diseases and injuries, perform surgery and examine eyes for vision deficiencies. They also provide a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses.