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Ophthalmic Technicians


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ophthalmic instruments Most ophthalmic laboratory technicians make products and implements that help patients see better, specifically prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses.  In addition to eyeglasses and contact lenses, some ophthalmic lab technicians specialize in making lenses for other kinds of optical equipment, such as binoculars, telescopes, rifle scopes, and spotting scopes.  Ophthalmic lab technicians read the prescription or lens specification, then use special automated machinery to cut, grind, edge, and finish lenses.  They then inspect the finished product to ensure it meets specifications.  In small organizations, ophthalmic technicians may perform every step in the process, while in larger operations they may merely handle the machinery in a highly automated process.

Formal training programs for ophthalmic technicians range from six months to one year, and can be found at some technical and vocational centers.  Attending a formal program is not necessary, and many ophthalmic laboratory workers receive on-the-job training, starting with simple tasks and moving to the more complex as they gain experience.  Organizations who are hiring ophthalmic technicians typically look for high school graduates with some aptitude in math and science.

Ophthalmic laboratory technicians usually work in laboratories that are clean and well lighted.  They typically spend a good portion of the day standing, and may have to deal with hazardous materials and machinery used in crafting lenses.  Ophthalmic technicians have little contact contact with the public, and typically work alone.

In addition to understanding the craft of making eyeglass lenses and contact lenses, an ophthalmic technician must have excellent vision and attention to detail, as well as exemplary manual dexterity.  Ophthalmic laboratory technicians should be comfortable with working alone for large portions of the day, with little social interaction.

The job outlook for ophthalmic technicians keeps pace with the need for corrective eyeglass and contact lenses.  As laser surgery becomes more popular, and as the need for corrective lenses diminishes as a result, the need for ophthalmic laboratory personnel will also diminish.  Those who make specialty products such as telescopes and binoculars will have the most opportunity.

For more information about ophthalmic laboratory technology careers, visit the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation website.

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About Ophthalmic Technicians' Job Responsibilities, Educational Requirements, and Working Conditions