A Career in Dispensing Optics
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 (D.O) 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 D.O's skill and expertise lies in the interpretation of this prescription. From the prescription the D.O 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 type and styling of frames, and taking frame, facial and lenses measurements. 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 has been instructed in how to get the best results from them, the D.O is always available to offer advice and effect adjustments and repairs if necessary.
The supply and fitting of contact lenses involves 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 offers immense job satisfaction to people who enjoy dealing with the public. Salaries can be expected to be on a par with other professions.
Types of training
Registration with the General Optical Council as a Dispensing Optician is obtained after qualifying for ABDO's Fellowship Diploma (enabling the use of 'FBDO' after the D.O's name) and a pre-registration year working under the supervision of a qualified optician. There are five ways to train as a D.O:
- 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 course, which includes compulsory block-release attendance for two two-week periods at one of the colleges. The third year of the course is the student's pre-registration year.
- A two-year full-time course at a technical college or university. This is then followed by the pre-registration year.
- A three-year full time course in Optical Management leading to the Association's Fellowship Diploma (FBDO) and a BSc (Honours) degree in Optical Management. This is available only via Anglia Polytechnic University. (Two passes at GCE 'A' level are required for this course).
- A three-year degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing and management is run via Bradford College ('A' levels are required).
- Day-release courses of three years' duration are available at Bradford College, City and Islington College and Anglia Polytechnic University. These courses are linked to employment with a qualified optician and incorporate the pre-registration year.
Generally, passes in five General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSE) are required, or, if applicants can provide evidence that they have a minimum of ten years' optical experience, the entry standard may be waived.
Although this may be used as a guide to entry standards, more details are available from the ABDO Distance Learning section, or contact the college or university of your choice to establish their entry qualifications.
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