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An optician is a trained and licensed health professional who, based on a prescription from an ophthalmologist and optometrist, designs, fits and dispenses the following to help improve your eyesight:



Contact lenses

Low vision aids

Prosthetic ocular devices

Cosmetic shells

Artificial eyes

Besides dispensing eyewear, this eye care professional also grinds, designs and manufactures eyeglass frames for customers. They maintain the records related to a customer's power and prescriptions and also carry out administrative duties like keeping track of stock and sales.

In Calgary, Opticians are regulated and governed by stringent standards to ensure that one's vision is safely protected and that you receive the best quality care. With age, comes the problem of less than perfect vision, making it necessary to go in for a full eye examination followed by corrective lenses to improve vision. Opticians are primary health care providers who play the important role of interpreting prescriptions and issuing the right eyewear using a number of tools.

Known as dispensing opticians in Calgary, these professionals require specific knowledge and training. While they do not write the prescriptions for eyewear, they must know how to interpret them into what the client needs.

The procedure, education and training

An aspiring optician needs a high school diploma or an approved GED equivalent after which comes the formal education and training followed by an apprenticeship.

Step one is to enroll in the Ophthalmic Dispensing Eyeglasses Program at an institute that offers the programs. These can be full-time, part-time or home study courses and the duration may range from one to four years depending on the mode of study. After completing the course, the student can appear for the national licensing exam and after passing this exam, the next step is to register with the provincial regulatory agency. Once registered, armed with an ophthalmic dispensing license, the Calgary optician is ready to dispense eyeglasses. If she so wishes, she can further her education and enroll for a contact lens program and clear the national licensing exam to become a licensed Contact Lens Fitter. In certain provinces, the course includes both eyeglass and contact lenses. In these cases, it is necessary to appear licensing exam for both separately after completing the course.

The optician's responsibilities

The optician handles various duties ranging from helping clients select the best eyeglass frames and customizing the frames to match their face. They also know how to dispense the right type of lenses based on the customer's needs. For instance, someone working at the computer would need a different type of glasses compared to a hardhat construction worker. This must also take into consideration what the customer prefers and based on these factors. They also offer advice on eye care, taking good care of the glasses and on contact lens safety.

In Calgary, opticians usually work with an optometrist or at an eye wear store, full time, part time or on the weekends depending on the arrangement they have. Those who are employed at optometrists' or ophthalmologists' offices invariably work regular hours.

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