An Optician Was and Is



How many times have you been approached by someone asking what an optician is? Do you examine eyes, do you operate on eyes, or do you just sell eyeglasses and contact lenses? I know I lost count many years ago and to this day still try to instill a vague knowledge of the three O’s to those who still mix them up. If you are somewhat like me when it comes to explaining the difference, you might have that feeling of being looked down on. Why you ask, well I felt like these folks were thinking, for the most part, that I was not going the distance and attending Medical school to become an Ophthalmologist or at least if you could not make the grade, attending Optometry school to be able to prescribe glasses.

I will let you in on a secret, I wanted all of these questioners to know how proud and happy I was and am still to be a licensed Ophthalmic Dispenser. I was not just being satisfied with working for a living, even at a “Profession” I love. It is being able to see the results of my profession with every completed pair of glasses or contact lens fitting. With all the smiles and thanks, that I receive for helping to solve their seeing problems that is what it is all about.

I reminisce about how it happened that I chose this path in life and the trials and tribulations that led up to my license. Gosh, some of you must be old enough to remember all the pairs of temples we screwed to frame fronts because that is how they were packaged to the optical shops. I even remember why, temples came in sizes, so did the fronts, wow! On the flip side, I also remember all the times that screwdriver was out to stab my poor fingers. That darn screwdriver still is trying to get even with me, occasionally finding my fingers. Wish it would let me know why; I only replaced the blades when they broke. Who out there in optical land remember Bunsen burners to heat frames to adjust the frames, or maybe the frame materials used in those days? Lest we forget some of these materials used, there was Lucite, which was highly flammable as well as some of the acetates. How about real tortoise shell frames or maybe nylon or optyl. I still picture using the “SALT” pan with patients wondering what the white stuff on the lenses was after cleaning them. Things did improve with the advent of glass beads, as long as we made sure none stayed in the rim when inserting finished lenses.

We should travel a little back in time to be able and picture how lenses were edged. How many Ophthalmic Dispensers of the time could or would use lens patterns to score a lens for cribbing before putting an edge on the lens. Of cause, the lenses were only glass lenses then. That was until plastic lenses came on the scene and the ceramic automatic edger to eliminate hand beveling. Boy, those edges were sharp; still have some scars to display.

This is fine if you wanted to be a “SHOPMAN”, but this also served to learn the role of the Ophthalmic Dispenser, the way we learned the tricks of the trade (Profession). Before schools were established for teaching Ophthalmic Dispensing it was the only way, we could become a Good accomplished optician. We were apprentices, hopefully under a master optician who imparted his knowledge to you. We found out the different types of lenses that could be the answer to the needs of the patient and how to fit them. In addition, the optics of the lens would determine along with the patient measurements how the lenses would be fabricated.

Today we have that wow factor in new technology, but that was always there no matter how long ago. Back then, it was how good we were in choice of frames and lenses, absolutely. The master optician could adjust the frames and lenses to be properly aligned, centered and to fit comfortably. That produced the patient WOW effect and kept that patient coming back.

Therefore, I can say how much my love has gone out to my PROFESSION and hope to have a few more years enjoying it and giving joy to those I care for. I would not have traded it for anything. What more could one ask for than a thank you I love the glasses, job well done, or just knowing this because they come back to see you again. Hopefully you feel the same, that is what and is an optician.

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