opticianry FAQ

What is an Optician?

An Optician is a vision expert; a health professional specially trained to supply, prepare, and dispense optical appliances through interpretation of written prescriptions. An Optician is an integral part of the vision care experience that adheres to exacting standards in order to enhance your vision.

What is the difference between an Optician, Optometrist, and Ophthalmologist?

Optician: A professional in the field of finishing and fitting eyeglass lenses, frames, and contact lenses.  An optician turns your doctor’s prescription into the glasses or contact lenses you need to make your vision the best it can be.  An optician may also dispense low vision aids and artificial eyes.

Optometrist: A Doctor of Optometry is trained to examine eyes for vision problems and to diagnose and correct vision problems through eyeglasses, contact lenses, other optical aids or exercises.  After an eye examination, an Optometrist provides a written prescription which you may take to your Optician.

Ophthalmologist: An Ophthalmologist is a medical doctor, who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of eyes and related systems.  An Ophthalmologist may prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to improve vision or medicines or surgery to restore eye health.  Ophthalmologists provide a written prescription after an eye examination which you may take to your Optician.

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What is the Opticians Association of America (OAA)?

The Opticians Association of America (OAA) is the only national organization representing opticianry’s business, professional, educational, legislative and regulatory interests. OAA's mission is to serve as the single unified voice of the profession of opticianry and to the commitment of promoting the professional stature of opticians through leadership, education, legislative representation, and communication.

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What is the Guild of Prescription Opticians?

Established in 1926, the Guild of Prescription Opticians (Guild) is governed by a code of ethics that requires its members to maintain the highest level of professional opticianry, thereby protecting the consumers’ interests; meet the high standards of the Guild to ensure that efficiency and service are always provided; furnish a source for eyecare products and services, independent of those prescribing for eye care needs; promote the conservation of human eyesight; supply only the finest quality optical products and services, representing the state of the art of opticianry; and participate in and encourage continuing education for eye care professionals.

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What is a PD Measurement?

Pupillary Distance (PD) is the distance (the industry standard is to measure in millimeters) between the centers of the pupils in each eye. This measurement is used when preparing to make prescription eyeglasses. Positioning lenses correctly in relation to the centre of the pupils is especially important for higher powered lenses due to the location of the optical centre of the lenses.

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What is Anti-Reflective Coating on Lenses?

A chemical coating applied to eyeglass lenses to reduce surface reflections.

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What is a Bifocal Lens?

Lenses of Eyeglasses that have two distinct areas of focus. The prescription in the top portion helps to see distant objects while the prescription in the bottom portion of the lens helps to see near objects.

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What is a Trifocal Lens?

Eyeglass lens that incorporates three lenses of different powers. The main portion is usually focused for distance (20 ft.), the center segment for about 2 ft., and the lower segment for near (14 in.).

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What are Progressive Lenses?

A no-line computer designed multi-focal lens with a continuous viewing range from near (12 to 16 inches) to intermediate (18 to 48 inches) to distance (beyond 48 inches). New digital surfacing production techniques allow for a decrease in peripheral side vision distortion. Technology has greatly improved progressive lens design to widen both the near and intermediate portion of the lens.

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How do I file a complaint about an Optician?

The best way to file a complaint against an optician is to contact your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). Not all opticians are members of the Opticians Association of America, so complaints should be sent directly to the BBB.

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What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a condition that affects the macula, a portion of the retina, and leads to loss of sharp central vision. AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness in America. Approximately 15 million Americans live with the disease and it is most common in older people ages 75-80. Symptoms include gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly; distorted vision; gradual loss of color vision; and dark or empty areas appearing in the center of vision.

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What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a clouding of all or part of the normally clear lens within the eye. It will eventually block and distort light entering the eye. More than 20.5 million Americans over age 40 are affected with this condition. Cataracts are usually found in people over age 55, but occasionally younger people can get then. Symptoms include cloudy or blurry distance vision; altered color perception; problems with glare; difficulty reading fine print; poor night vision and frequent changes in corrective lenses.

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What is Conjunctivitis?

Commonly known as Pink Eye - Inflammation of the conjunctiva that is characterized by discharge, grittiness, redness and swelling. Usually viral in origin, but may be bacterial or allergic and may be contagious.

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What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a secondary complication of diabetes and is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Small blood vessels swell, leak and hemorrhage into the retina blurring vision and occasionally leading to blindness. When detected and treated in a timely fashion, significant vision loss can usually be avoided. Approximately 4.1 million Americans with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. Anyone with diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, is at risk of developing this condition. At least yearly examinations are necessary for diabetics, as diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms.

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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is gradually damaged because the pressure inside of the eye is too high. Between three and four million Americans have glaucoma; including an estimated 1.5 to two million people who do not even know that they have the disease. Those who are over 40, Hispanic, African American, have a family history of glaucoma, are very nearsighted or diabetic are at higher risk of developing the condition. The most common type of glaucoma develops gradually and painlessly, with no symptoms for an extended period of time. If untreated, loss of side vision will occur and may eventually lead to blindness.

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What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a progressive condition that makes reading and doing close work, such as sewing, increasingly difficult as eyes age. For people in their 40's and early 50's, it's often the first sign of aging; by age 55, it affects everyone. Even those with perfect eyesight may find they can no longer read books and printed materials at normal distances.

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What is a Refractive Error?

Refractive errors occur when there is a variance between the focusing strength of the eye and the length of the eyeball. When a refractive error is present, light entering the eye is not focused, which results in a blurry image. Refractive errors are the most common vision disorder and can be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. The four most common refractive errors are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia.

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What is an Optician?

An Optician is a vision expert; a health professional specially trained to supply, prepare, and dispense optical appliances through interpretation of written prescriptions. An Optician is an integral part of the vision care experience that adheres to exacting standards in order to enhance your vision.

Back to the Top

What is the difference between an Optician, Optometrist, and Ophthalmologist?

Optician: A professional in the field of finishing and fitting eyeglass lenses, frames, and contact lenses.  An optician turns your doctor’s prescription into the glasses or contact lenses you need to make your vision the best it can be. An optician may also dispense low vision aids and artificial eyes.

Optometrist: A Doctor of Optometry is trained to examine eyes for vision problems and to diagnose and correct vision problems through eyeglasses, contact lenses, other optical aids or exercises. After an eye examination, an Optometrist provides a written prescription which you may take to your Optician.

Ophthalmologist: An Ophthalmologist is a medical doctor, who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of eyes and related systems. An Ophthalmologist may prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to improve vision or medicines or surgery to restore eye health.  Ophthalmologists provide a written prescription after an eye examination which you may take to your Optician.

Back to the Top

What is the Opticians Association of America (OAA)?

The Opticians Association of America (OAA) is the only national organization representing opticianry’s business, professional, educational, legislative and regulatory interests. OAA's mission is to serve as the single unified voice of the profession of opticianry and to the commitment of promoting the professional stature of opticians through leadership, education, legislative representation, and communication.

Back to the Top

What is the Guild of Prescription Opticians?

Established in 1926, the Guild of Prescription Opticians (Guild) is governed by a code of ethics that requires its members to maintain the highest level of professional opticianry, thereby protecting the consumers’ interests; meet the high standards of the Guild to ensure that efficiency and service are always provided; furnish a source for eyecare products and services, independent of those prescribing for eye care needs; promote the conservation of human eyesight; supply only the finest quality optical products and services, representing the state of the art of opticianry; and participate in and encourage continuing education for eye care professionals.

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What do Other Opticianry Organizations Do?

American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE): ABO and NCLE are national not-for- profit organizations for the voluntary certification of ophthalmic dispensers. ABO, the American Board of Opticianry, certifies opticians — those who dispense and work with spectacles. NCLE, the National Contact Lens Examiners, certifies those ophthalmic dispensers who fit and work with contact lenses.

Commission on Opticianry Accreditation (COA): COA is a not-for-profit agency, accredits Opticianry training in the United States. The mission of the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation is to foster excellence in opticianry education by setting standards, assessing educational effectiveness, and identifying those academic programs that meet the standards, in order to aid programs to produce competent graduates who will provide professional services to the public.

Contact Lens Society of America (CLSA): CLSA is dedicated to the education, evolution, and promotion of contact lens technology. The objective of the CLSA is to promote education, mutual understanding and cooperation among all persons interested in contact

National Academy of Opticianry (NAO): The National Academy of Opticianry "The Academy" is an international organization dedicated solely to education and training for all opticians.  Founded in 1963, the Academy offers opticianry education and training in a variety of formats. The Academy covers all aspects of education and training from career preparation (internationally known as the Ophthalmic Career Progression Program), certification and licensing exam preparation and continuing education for beginning through advanced level opticians.

National Federation of Opticianry Schools (NFOS): The National Federation of Opticianry Schools (NFOS) is the national organization dedicated to the promotion of formal opticianry education offered by accredited educational institutions. Formal education is fundamental to the credibility of the Optician as a vision care professional.

Vision of Hope Foundation: The Vision of Hope Foundation was formed to promote opticianry education; develop future opticianry leaders; and perform international, national and community based vision related mission work.

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What are the Requirements to become an Optician?

In the United States, the requirements to perform opticianry are different in every state.  Some states require a license and continuing education while other states have no formal requirements.  It is always best to check with your state’s Department of Health for the exact requirements, if there are any.

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What States Require Licensure?

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia,  are Washington require opticians to be licensed.  Puerto Rico also requires licensure.

New Hampshire and Texas are voluntary registration states for opticians.

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What are the Licensure and Continuing Education Requirements in my State?

The best resource for finding out specific licensure requirements for your state is to contact your State Board directly. Here is a link to the Licensing Board’s contact information (http://www.eyecareprofessions.com/opticians/licensed-opticians.html)

The best resource for finding out the continuing education requirements for your state is by visiting Quantum Optical’s website (http://www.quantumoptical.com/streq.asp)

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What are ABO and NCLE Certifications?

ABO, the American Board of Opticianry, certifies opticians – those who dispense and work with spectacles.

NCLE, the National Contact Lens Examiners, certifies those ophthalmic dispensers who fit and work with contact lenses.

Certification: You can’t buy it; you have to earn it. Certification is professional distinction – official and public recognition of your achievement that you have met a national set of standards as a qualified and competent optician or contact lens technician. Certification is official assurance to the public that you will handle their eye wear needs competently and carefully; certification is recognized by employers as a standard of competence.

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What Schools offer Opticianry Programs?

The National Federation of Opticianry Schools (NFOS) is the national organization dedicated to the promotion of formal opticianry education offered by accredited educational institutions.  Here is a link to the NFOS member institutions: http://www.nfos.org/schoolsindex.asp

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What is the Ophthalmic Career Progression Program (OCPP)?

The Ophthalmic Career Progression Program (OCPP) was the first contemporary, home study program designed to provide a thorough theoretical education in opticianry for those already working in the optical field. The OCPP consists of three study volumes and end of volume tests followed by a cumulative final examination. The chapters are a comprehensive study of the background material and knowledge necessary for an individual to perform competently as an ophthalmic dispenser and to help prepare the ophthalmic dispenser for the National Opticianry Competency Examination administered by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and examinations for state licensure.

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How many Opticians are there in the United States?

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that there were almost 63,000 practicing opticians and that the profession would grow by approximately 18,000 new opticians by 2020.

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What are ANSI Standards?

Standards established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In eyewear, ANSI Standards cover the precision or accuracy of the prescription and impact resistance criteria.

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