Focus on your future as an optician in the UK

The profession of ophthalmic dispensing is over 250 years old. As in the past the supply of spectacles and other visual aids is important to a modern society. Of prime concern to every qualified Dispensing Optician is the visual comfort of the patient.

A prescription issued by an ophthalmic medical practitioner or ophthalmic optician (optometrist) following an eye examination states the measure of the degree of error in the patient’s sight.

The Dispensing Optician’s skill and expertise lies in the interpretation of this prescription. From it he is able to supply an accurate aid to the patient’s vision, either spectacles, contact lenses or other appliances.

The work of the Dispensing Optician involves prescription analysis advice on lens types, advice on styling of frames, and taking frame and facial measurements and measurements in relation to lenses.

Before any finished spectacles are deemed acceptable for a patient, they must be checked to ensure they correspond to the prescription and final ordered specifications and are suitable for the conditions in which they will be used.

After the patient has received the new spectacles and been instructed how to get best results from them, the Dispensing Optician is always available to offer advice and affect adjustments and repairs if necessary.

The supply and fitting of contact lenses involve different processes to fitting spectacles, and after completion of the standard course, advanced courses are run for those wishing to specialise in the subject.

Dispensing Optics offer immense job satisfaction to persons who enjoy dealing with the public. Salaries can be expected to be on par with other professions.

Qualifications needed

Five General Certificates of Secondary Education passes (grades A,B or C) equivalent, which must include English Literature or English Language, Mathematics or Physics and a science based subject, plus two other subjects.

For applicants who can provide evidence that they have a minimum of ten years’ optical experience the entry standard may be waived.

Whilst the above is basic entry standard most colleges/university’s will require higher entry qualifications.

You are strongly advised to contact the college/university of your choice to establish their entry qualifications.

Both the General Certificate of Education at O’Level (grades A, B or C) and Certificate of Secondary Education (grade 1 only) are accepted in lieu of a full pass.

Types of Training

There are two ways to train as a Dispensing Optician in the U.K.

  • To take a three year distance learning course run by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, the student being employed by a qualified optician for the duration of the course. Practical experience is gained from the employment whilst theoretical knowledge is acquired through the distance learning course, which includes compulsory block release attendance for two-week periods at one of the colleges. Again the pre-registration year is counted as part of the course.
  • To attend a two year full-time course at a technical college. This is followed by one year’s work, the ‘pre-registration’ year, under the supervision of a qualified optician.

Completion of the appropriate course, pre-registration year and successful results in the Association’s examinations lead to the issue of a Fellowship Diploma and registration with the General Optical Council.

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