A dispensing optician (DO) advises on, fits and supplies the most appropriate spectacles after taking account of each patient’s visual, lifestyle and vocational needs. Dispensing opticians also play an important role in advising and dispensing low vision aids to those who are partially sighted as well as advising on and dispensing to children where appropriate. They are also able to fit and provide aftercare for contact lenses after undergoing further specialist training. Career opportunities also exist to develop business skills in marketing and practice management.
All registered dispensing opticians have undergone a minimum of three years academic and practical training to qualify. Only dispensing opticians registered with the GOC can practise in the UK, or use the protected title dispensing optician.
Their specialist skills include professional advice on lenses for night driving, UV protection, prescription sunglasses, spectacles for VDU use, sports and safety eyewear.
Dispensing spectacles to children, to the visually impaired, or dispensing of contact lenses can only be undertaken by, or carried out under supervision of, dispensing opticians or optometrists registered with the GOC.
A dispensing optician will provide advice and supply the most comfortable fitting and aesthetically appealing spectacles after taking account of your personal visual, lifestyle and vocational needs.
A major skill is the interpretation of your prescription and the recommendation of lenses, tints and coatings to provide optimum visual performance, combined with suitable spectacle frames to ensure a comfortable fit.
They take the necessary measurements and keep records of the specifications.
Dispensing opticians play an important role in advising parents and dispensing to children.
Another area of expertise is dispensing low vision aids to the visually impaired.
Many dispensing opticians also specialise in the fitting and supply of contact lenses.
You can study ophthalmic dispensing in a number of ways, both full and part time, on day or block release which means that this career can suit those who want to work and study at the same time. There is are various full time, day release, distance learning, FD (two year) and BSc (three year) courses available at Anglia Ruskin University, Bradford College, ABDO College in association with Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), City & Islington College and Glasgow Caledonian University.
Many people study through blended learning via ABDO College – involving block release, distance learning assignments, in-practice supervision and examinations through ABDO. Depending which route you choose, at the end of the course you may achieve Foundation Degree and BSc (Hons) qualifications, alongside the required ABDO Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing (‘FBDO’) qualification required to become a dispensing optician registered with the General Optical Council.
A career as a dispensing optician (DO) can be extremely rewarding. One of the many benefits that is often mentioned by members of the profession is that ‘no two days are the same’; indeed, the demands in daily practice are wide, varied and constantly changing.
Dispensing optics is a career option that suits those who, as well as having attained the basic entry requirements, enjoy problem solving and wish to strongly develop and apply the technical and communication skills acquired during their training.
Successful dispensing requires a skilled consultation process to accurately assess the individual needs of the patient to thereby be able to recommend and provide suitable eye wear products and solutions; not least the job also requires someone with commercial awareness and expertise. Dispensing optics offers immense job satisfaction to people who are interested in combining a profession in health and social care with a mathematical/scientific knowledge base and enjoy interacting directly with the public.