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NOC Code: NOC Code: 3231 Occupation: Opticians
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Opticians fit clients with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, assist clients in the selection of eyeglass frames, arrange for the production of eyeglasses or contact lenses and mount lenses in eyeglass frames. They are employed in optical retail outlets or other establishments with optical dispensing departments, or they may be self-employed. Student opticians and opticians who are managers of optical retail outlets are included in this group. Opticians fit clients with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, assist clients in the selection of eyeglass frames, arrange for the production of eyeglasses or contact lenses and mount lenses in eyeglass frames. They are employed in optical retail outlets or other establishments with optical dispensing departments, or they may be self-employed. Student opticians and opticians who are managers of optical retail outlets are included in this group.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3
Writing Writing 1 2 3
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2 3
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3
Money Math Money Math 1 2 3
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3 4
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3 4
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2 3
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2 3
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3 4
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2


  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.


Reading Text
  • Read instructions and precautions on the labels of optical products such as lens cleaners. (1)
  • Skim numerous notes written by other staff to learn about clients' orders, such as what services have been provided, what products have been sold and what tasks need to be done. (2)
  • Read publications issued by professional associations to stay abreast of industry regulations. For example, opticians read quarterly reports from provincial Colleges of Opticians to ensure that they meet the continuous learning requirements to remain certified. (2)
  • Refer to manuals and textbooks to solve unusual dispensing problems. For example, consult a comprehensive manual called System for Ophthalmic Dispensing to learn how to make glasses for a mechanic who needs double bifocal segments, one segment for looking down to read parts catalogues and a second segment for looking up to examine bottoms of cars. Locate the relevant section in the manual, read the text and refer to diagrams to know how to develop lens specifications. (3)
  • Study promotional materials from suppliers of optical products. For instance, read a product brochure to find out how the prism ballast in toric soft contact lenses works and what benefits it offers when treating astigmatic clients. Read to understand how the thickness and weight distribution of the lens works to stabilize lens rotation on an eye. Use the information to assess the lens quality and to be able to explain the concepts to clients. (3)
  • Read articles in trade magazines about new products, procedures and eye care issues. For example, read an article about glaucoma to learn about the condition and to develop a presentation to a large group of elderly people. (3)
  • Consult a brochure on changes to taxation regulations with respect to optical products. Locate and read information about the application of taxes to verify if taxes on sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses need to be charged. (3)
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Writing
  • Write reminder notes of tasks that need to be completed within a certain time frame, for example to call a client ten days after eyeglasses have been dispensed to verify the client's satisfaction. (1)
  • Write notes to coordinate tasks with co-workers, such as a note to inform other staff that a type of repair has been completed on a client's frames or that a replacement lens has been ordered under warranty. Notes are hand written and placed in clients' trays or entered in computerized client files. (1)
  • Write letters to head offices to request refunds for clients, explaining the situation and why a refund is justified. The writing is direct but polite. (2)
  • Draft text for advertisements or promotional flyers to announce upcoming sales or to introduce a new product line, such as coloured contacts. The content is usually brief and factual but written in an inviting style. (3)
  • Write client information in client file forms. Enter details such as clients' medical histories as it relates to vision problems, past and current medications, and anatomical and eyewear measurements. Entries in client files may involve writing several sentences to describe a client's experience with contact lenses dispensed, possible causes of problems and the treatments tried to date. The text is brief but involves using technical terms and abbreviations. (3)
  • Write letters referring clients to medical specialists. The letters must accurately document observations and measurements taken, treatments attempted and explain the vision problems and issues presented by clients. (3)
  • Write evaluation reports at the end of student opticians' work placements to submit to the students' colleges. The evaluation report presents an assessment of the student's technical knowledge, client approach, autonomy, manual dexterity and eye for style and aesthetics. (3)
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Document Use
  • Read and enter information into daily process schedules of eyewear orders to be filled. Refer to the schedules to plan production tasks and check the appropriate box when an order is completed. (1)
  • Interpret graphs and tables in journal articles on the characteristics of different optical products. For example, look at a set of graphs comparing the degree of protection of several lens coatings against ultra-violet and infra-red radiation. (2)
  • Complete claim forms for eyewear dispensed to clients covered by private and public health service plans. Gather information to enter onto the forms by referencing clients' health care cards for ID numbers and scanning social assistance benefits and guides for fees to locate correct codes for services. (2)
  • Use a vertex conversion chart to determine the amount of prescription power adjustment that will be needed, a value proportional to the distance between the corneal surface and the corrective lens. The vertex conversion chart is designed to be read in one direction for positive prescriptions and the reverse direction for negative prescriptions. (2)
  • Scan labels on prescription lens packages for data such as lens brand, power, size and quantity, to co-ordinate them with appropriate work orders. (2)
  • Use manufacturers' centration charts to verify optical measurements and to mark the positioning points on progressive lenses so they can be edged and mounted into frames at correct prescription specifications. Each brand of progressive lenses uses a slightly different format chart, but the charts generally include a variety of diagrams and scales. (3)
  • Prepare daily production and sales reports. For example, complete daily recap reports consisting of several forms that are faxed to the head office. The reports summarize sales, staff hours, repairs, and lab production data. The lab recap form itemizes the number of lenses produced, number of breakages, types of breakage, breakage cost, whether the lab or the dispensers caused the breakage, and number of replacement lenses ordered by doctors. Refer to cash register records and work order notes to complete the forms. (3)
  • Use a Progressive Identifier booklet to identify the type of progressive lens in clients' existing glasses and to check the recommended fitting height for different lenses. Use three different indexes to search for lenses by company name, laser engraved symbols, or minimum fitting height. The booklet lists over 200 types of progressive lenses along with related lens diagrams. (3)
  • Consult product catalogues. For example, consult an annual industry catalogue which lists a wide range of suppliers and the brands and varieties of frames and lenses they carry. Typical use of the catalogue involves cross-referencing entries to locate desired products, best prices and most suitable methods for ordering. (3)
  • Complete lens order forms, entering numerous items including prescription data, product codes, quantities, prices, plus any special instructions about the lens including grinding, decentration, thinness, colour and type of material required. Different labs use different formats, but accuracy and thoroughness are always critical to avoid delays or costly remakes. (3)
  • Refer to lists of lens production tolerances provided by provincial Colleges of Opticians to ensure lenses produced are acceptable. The lists specify tolerances for a number of lens characteristics including power, cylinder axis per lens in a pair, unwanted horizontal prism, and add power. (3)
  • Obtain information from prescription forms such as the values for sphere, cylinder, axis, prism, and 'add'. Use specialized knowledge to analyze this technical data and to develop specifications for appropriate ophthalmic or contact lenses. (3)
  • Interpret information on equipment screens to develop eyewear specifications and assess eye conditions. For example, interpret and manipulate bands of light and lines on a lensometer to determine lens axis orientation, and interpret images seen through the keratometer to assess the vascularization of clients' eyes. (3)
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Computer Use
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, use the Eyelogic sight testing system to take measurements and generate prescription options or use Solacalc Plus v2.13 optical lens manufacturing software to generate specifications for the surfacing and finishing of prescription lenses. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, search a supplier's online product catalogue and make lens orders via Internet. (2)
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, position lenses graphically on the screens of computerized tracing and edging equipment, and then enter commands to automatically trace frame shapes and cut lenses to fit frames. (2)
  • Use statistical analysis software. For example, use the statistical analysis function of custom optical dispensing software programs to track sales by day, week and month in both units and dollars and to compare current to previous years' sales. (2)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, use the bookkeeping function of custom optical dispensing software or other bookkeeping programs (Gestop 2004, 4-SIGHT 5, ifile, Simply Accounting) to enter information into payable and receivable categories and produce invoices. (2)
  • Use a spreadsheet. For example, create spreadsheets to keep track of incoming invoices. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, load graphics such as scanned pictures, digital photos and Clip Art images into picture databases. (2)
  • Use word processing software. For example, use Word to write letters to insurance companies about eye care services provided to clients, or create one-page flyers, selecting and modifying fonts and colours, importing graphics or pictures of eyewear or creating borders and shadowing effects. (3)
  • Use a database. For example, use the database function of an optician or optometrist software program such as ifile to enter and print out client information, or use a franchise software program such as Gestop 2004 for database entry, inventory management and appointment scheduling. (3)
  • Use email. For example, email messages with attached files to accountants or to head offices, or send promotional information to clients on distribution lists. (3)
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Oral Communication
  • Confirm with labs that orders have been received and will be returned within the time periods requested. (1)
  • Discuss with co-workers and clients what products are suitable for clients. An optician may, for example, discuss with a stylist and a client what frames are most attractive for the client by explaining the effect of frame shape and colour on different facial structures. The optician may also question the client about his or her work tasks, lifestyle and price preferences, and then tries to offer opinions without contradicting the stylist or offending the client. (2)
  • Telephone lens orders to suppliers, providing numerous items of information about each lens order. Accuracy and clear enunciation is important to prevent delivery errors and production delays, particularly in outlets that offer one-hour service. (2)
  • Make presentations to other staff on information learned from attending a trade show or convention. (2)
  • In some jurisdictions, explain the procedures and limitations of service on sight testing. This involves conveying the effectiveness of the procedure while being clear that a sight test conducted by an optician is not the same as an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Miscommunication may have legal ramifications. (2)
  • Coordinate tasks with co-workers. For example, an optician may ask another to pull particular lens blanks from inventory and to finish lens edging and mounting jobs while he or she serves walk-in customers. Exchanging tasks is frequent and may involve communicating technical details. (2)
  • Discuss with clients the benefits and disadvantages of optical products. For example, advise clients that progressive lenses have peripheral areas of distortion which may require more head movement to maintain clear vision. Clear communication prevents later disappointment and enables clients to successfully accommodate to the new lenses. (2)
  • Explain to clients the importance of protecting their eyes against ultra-violet (UV) radiation and introduce them to several UV coating options to persuade them to purchase a high quality lens treatment. (2)
  • Negotiate with dissatisfied clients. For example, explain to an angry client that a delay in delivery of his or her eyeglasses is due to a production problem at the supplying laboratory, express understanding of the client's frustration and offer some feasible solutions. (3)
  • Instruct trainee opticians on technical procedures such as how to operate optical equipment and take precise measurements to make up glasses to prescription specifications. Communicate clearly and at a pace and level that ensure comprehension. Miscommunication could lead to costly error and the need for further training. (3)
  • Question clients during fitting and follow-up visits to assess the effectiveness of the eyewear dispensed. For example, an optician may ask if a frame shifts or pinches, if contact lenses feel tight or dry, and if any fuzziness of vision is in central or peripheral areas. Effective fitting requires careful listening to clients' subjective experience since fitting is an art as well as a science. (3)
  • Consult with other eye care professionals about client's conditions and needs. For example, consult ophthalmologists about the dispensing of rigid contact lenses to help reshape the cornea of clients with keratoconous, a condition in which the cornea becomes bulbous. These discussions involve using medical terminology and being able to communicate the clients' symptoms and the specifications of different types of lenses available. (3)
  • Reassure aging clients who are losing their eyesight by pointing out that aids are available. Eyesight is a very emotional issue and opticians need to counsel clients with sensitivity, and explain options without giving clients false expectations. (3)
  • Make presentations to special interest groups. For example, present information about glaucoma and cataracts to a large group of elderly people, ensuring that the presentation is accurate yet easy for lay people to understand. (3)
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Money Math
  • Verify invoices sent by optical laboratories to make sure that credit was awarded for lenses that were returned because the lenses did not match order specifications. (1)
  • Calculate bills for eyewear by totalling prices for frames, lenses and coatings, and applying appropriate taxes and discounts. (3)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Schedule client appointments, taking into account the varying times needed for a first fitting, follow-up adjustment or for edging and mounting of lenses. (1)
  • Calculate the ratio of cost to charge for sales and repair services to ensure adequate profit is being made. This involves calculating the cost of goods sold plus labour divided by retail price charged to clients. (3)
  • Opticians who own and manage retail outlets are responsible for planning and monitoring annual budgets, including budgeting for staff salaries, purchasing stock and equipment, advertising and promotions. (4)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Opticians in outlets with surfacing labs set the timers on surfacing machinery to produce the correct amount of finishing and polishing of lenses. (1)
  • Use millimetre rulers to measure the dimensions of frames including the bridges, and the horizontal, vertical and effective diameter (longest diagonal) dimensions of the frames' eye openings. (2)
  • Conduct sight tests in some jurisdictions by using precise measuring instruments. For example, use an auto-lensometer to measure the prescription of clients' existing glasses, an auto-refractor to generate a prescription based on measurements of the clients' eyes, and an auto-pheropter to measure clients' subjective sight quality. (3)
  • Take precise measurements of client inter-pupillary distances using a pupillometer or a millimetre ruler. (3)
  • Use measurements and formulae to develop eyewear specifications. For example, measure the distance between two marked optical centres in a lens and apply Prentice's Rule to calculate the amount of prism induced by incorrect placement of the optical centre. (4)
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Data Analysis
  • Verify that the prescriptions and inter-pupillary distances used by labs to produce lenses match the work orders. (1)
  • Calibrate equipment such as a keratometer by making adjustments until the keratometer readings match those on specialized calibration instruments. (1)
  • Interpret research data on products presented in trade magazines. For example, compare the efficacy of two topical anti-allergen treatments by interpreting a set of bar charts and accompanying statistical analysis to draw conclusions about which treatment to recommend to clients. (2)
  • Analyse data from a number of prescription components and optical measurements, including power, axis, reading correction, prism, corneal curvature, and vertex adjustment, to determine the appropriate eyewear for clients. Also compare clients' data with specifications for different types of eyewear available. (3)
  • Calculate the average number of lenses and glasses completed per hour in a day to assess lab efficiency. (3)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the laboratory time involved in the production of eyeglasses for clients, based on past experience with similar lenses and treatments. (1)
  • Estimate the quantities of lens blanks of various specifications to stock to meet customer demand. Maintaining appropriate inventory is particularly critical in outlets that offer one-hour service on eyeglasses. (2)
  • Estimate how many millimetres more or less to edge lenses than a tracer indicates in order to fit the lenses into particular types of frames based on past experience with these frames. (2)
  • Estimate the thickness of clients' new ophthalmic lenses based on the prescription, the type of lenses and exact measurements of the frame. A fair degree of precision is required because clients may reject lenses should they be thicker than expected. (3)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Opticians plan and organize their own tasks to serve scheduled and walk-in clients. Their tasks vary according to client needs, but generally follow a routine that includes interviewing clients about their vision needs, interpreting their prescriptions, helping them select eyewear, fitting them with glasses or contact lenses, teaching them about the care of their eyes and eyewear, and making up bills and taking payment. Some opticians also conduct sight testing and dispense low vision aids. When not serving clients, opticians fit in tasks such as documenting client information, writing up work orders, ordering stock, and verifying lab deliveries. In outlets that have partial or full-production labs, opticians follow a set sequence of tasks to make up glasses orders according to delivery schedules, sometimes to fulfil one-hour dispensing services. Opticians who are owners and managers must also fit in administrative tasks such as meeting with suppliers and planning budgets, staff schedules and advertising. The schedules of opticians may be disrupted by a rush of customers or an occasional emergency case, but these are usually easily accommodated by exchanging tasks with other staff members as needed. Opticians who are employees usually do not organize the work of others although they may help to orient new workers and instruct trainees. They may also participate in discussions led by owners and managers about operational procedures and strategic planning. Opticians who own or manage one or more outlets have the responsibility for operational and strategic planning tasks such as planning staff requirements and work schedules, budgeting for major equipment purchases, developing and implementing marketing approaches, and monitoring employee performance. (2)
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Decision Making
  • Decide whether clients are appropriate candidates for sight testing. Follow clear standards of practice issued by the provincial regulatory body. For example, if a client has not seen a doctor within the past five years, has medical conditions such as diabetes and cataracts, or has never worn glasses before, the optician should refer the client to a doctor for an eye examination. (1)
  • Decide whether to modify prescriptions when developing eyewear specifications. For example, an optician may modify a prescription that has high sphere values based on the knowledge that prescriptions assume a vertex distance of 14mm which is not the case with higher prescriptions. Opticians have a set decision tree to follow, but there is also scope for interpretation. (2)
  • Decide to organize sales promotion events. For example, organize a VIP event with drinks and a light buffet to launch a new product line, such as eyeglass frames. There is a risk of losing money if the expenses incurred are higher than the additional sales generated from the event. (2)
  • Decide to recommend that clients try different products based on the clients' needs and responses. For example, recommend that clients try a type of contact lenses which display larger optical zones, based on the fact that clients see halos with current ones. (2)
  • Decide what products to carry, for example a new style of frames or a new collection of coloured contact lenses. Choose from a vast array of products available from multiple suppliers. Make financially sound decisions based on assessments of the quality of the products, past sales data and current consumer trends. (2)
  • Decide to use specialized lenses for clients with unusual problems. For example, an optician may decide to fit a client who has keratoconous (bulbous cornea) with orthokeratology lenses to help reshape the cornea. The process is supported by research but may not work in all cases. Opticians may also consult ophthalmologists for additional advice. (3)
  • Decide where to mark reference points on lenses that are critical for making up finished glasses that meet prescription specifications. Some reference points involve considering factors other than precise measurements. For example, an optician decides how high or low to mark the segment height for progressive lenses depending on clients' task needs, postures and head mobilities. (3)
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Problem Solving
  • Receive the wrong lenses from labs. An optician may, for example, ask the lab for a replacement, notify the client of the delay and book a new appointment to pick up their glasses. (1)
  • Encounter customers who seem uncertain about what frames they want, yet reject offers of assistance. Avoid pressuring the customers and instead observe and approach when customers appear to be receptive to being guided to suitable options. (2)
  • Receive complaints from clients about unsatisfactory products. For example, an optician may receive three client complaints over the breakage of the same brand of flexible eyeglasses. The optician must then explain the situation to the supplier and request full reimbursement for frames purchased and the costs incurred in the lens edging and mounting in frames. (2)
  • Orders are not ready on schedule. For example, an optician may scratch a coated lens while surfacing it and are unable to finish the glasses in time for a customer to pick up before leaving on holiday. He or she may explain that it would take days to re-order lenses with the coating, persuade the customer to temporarily accept glasses with uncoated lenses, and promise to have the coated lenses ready when the customer returns. (2)
  • Find that customers are not happy with optical products even when technical specifications have been met. For example, make glasses according to an optometrist's prescription but the customers are dissatisfied and complain of vision problems with them. After re-checking measurements and trying a variety of adjustments, check for a possible error in the original prescription. Collaborate with the optometrists to verify or correct the prescriptions and to share financial loss with the optometrists. The policy of most optical companies is to do everything possible to maintain good relations with doctors. (3)
  • Deal with problem employees. For example, find that employees are spending too much time receiving personal phone calls, surfing the Internet or being rude in dealing with clients. Set up private meetings with the employees to ascertain their motivations, to suggest behaviour changes and to warn that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. (3)
  • Deal with clients who experience discomfort or poor vision using contact lenses. Check a wide range of factors, including re-assessment of the clients' vision, determining if the clients' tear production is compatible with the moisture content of the contacts dispensed, and examining if the contacts are fitting too tightly or if the eyelids are pushing the contact lenses out of position. If after trying alternative lenses nothing works, it may be necessary to admit failure and refund the clients. Inappropriate solutions can harm the eye. (3)
  • See clients with rare problems. For example, see infants born with poor vision who need corrective contact lenses immediately to reduce the effects later in life. Conduct extensive tests and research to determine the best solutions. Such fitting processes require careful observation and interpretation because young infants can not provide verbal feedback about improvements. The success of the efforts will only be known months if not years later as children develop. (4)
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Finding Information
  • Look up optometrists' addresses and phone numbers in published directories. (1)
  • Find information about new and award winning optical products by consulting trade publications. For example, research the different scratch resistant, hydrophobic, anti-smudge and shock-absorbing properties of several ophthalmic lens coating options to be able to recommend the most suitable option for a client's needs. (2)
  • Look up in electronic client file systems, data about clients' previous prescriptions, products purchased, and treatments received to determine what changes to recommend. (2)
  • Research eye pathologies presented by clients. For example, see a client who has oedema in an eye due to a car accident. Search for information about appropriate treatment on the Internet, in trade publications and through consultation with doctors. Based on the research and advice, either dispense corrective eyewear or refer the client to a doctor. (3)
  • Consult a comprehensive dispensing manual to review infrequently used procedures, such as how to adjust segment heights to accommodate the effect of prescribed prism for a patient whose eyes are at two different levels. (3)
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Critical Thinking
  • Assess the need to modify prescriptions. For example, modify the axis portion of a prescription for toric contact lenses based on examining the lenses on the client's eyes with a bio-microscope and measuring the targets on the lenses. Assessment criteria are well-defined within the profession. (2)
  • Judge the best type of frames and lenses for clients based upon a careful weighing of numerous factors, including clients' prescriptions, work and other activities, facial features, style preferences and budget limitations. Error in evaluation may result in a dissatisfied client. (2)
  • Assess the urgency of cases to determine which should take priority. For example, an optician may assess that a client complaining of eye dryness is less urgent than a person who has had a contact lens stuck on the back of an eye for more than a day. (2)
  • Regularly evaluate the quality of optical products by studying specifications, speaking with colleagues about their experiences, reading user reviews on supplier websites, and observing the experiences of clients with the products. (2)
  • Judge the suitability of progressive lenses for clients. Consider the clients' age, vision needs, head and neck mobility, and whether they are prone to imbalance or vertigo. Error could lead to unsatisfactory accommodation and return of the lenses. (2)
  • Assess clients' understanding and skill in regards to correct application of contact lenses. Use a combination of questioning and observation to judge if clients can effectively follow wearing schedules, cleaning regimens and procedures for insertion and removal of lenses. Consider the clients' cognitive, language and motivational levels. (2)
  • Assess the accuracy of lab equipment by observing how the lens surfacing and polishing processes feel, and by taking periodic manual measurements such as measuring lens thickness using callipers. Error in assessment may delay needed calibration. Opticians are allowed certain tolerances but they need to provide customers the best product possible to avoid costly returns and loss of business. (2)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of eyewear dispensed during follow-up visits. For example, an optician may evaluate the contact lenses dispensed for a client by synthesizing the client's subjective experience of comfort and vision quality with precise measurements taken on automated equipment. Inaccurate evaluations may leave problems uncorrected and harm clients' eyes. (2)
  • Evaluate the quality and relevance of continuing education courses to provide feedback for professional organizations which sponsor the courses. (2)
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