There are a few schools that offer programs of study in vision care as a dispensing optician, which makes up for the need of experience as an apprentice and looks good to potential employers. These schools are designed to teach and prepare students for the work environment and responsibilities of opticians including courses, lab work, and clinicals to enhance communication skills, knowledge in tools and instruments, information on many topics related to the eyes, and much, much more.
Although the programs have similar and different courses and offer varying levels of preparedness and education, there are many courses that students often have to take. These courses might have unique names at the various schools but teach similar information about the particular subject. Here is a look at some of the core courses, not basics like English and History, which students will be taking during many dispensing optician programs. Not all courses will be listed because there is a lot of variety in what is taught and what is not.
Anatomy and Physiology of the Eye, Ocular Anatomy & Physiology
These courses teach the basics of the eye’s anatomy from all components that make up its structure and to all the functions each section performs including visual pathways, muscles, ocular pathologies and pharmacology, eye diseases, and plenty more. These are usually the first semester courses taken by optician students.
Basic Optics, Geometric Optics, Optical Physics
These courses teach the basics of optics including basic and advanced principles of light, reflection and its affect on plane and spherical surfaces, lenses, prisms, mirrors and a general understanding of how vision works. These courses can be split into different levels including I and II for separating basic and advanced studies.
These courses educate students on the common standards in development and manufacturing of ophthalmic materials, including those used in single vision, multifocal lenses, prismatic effects, spherical and prism lenses, and other topics. Information on lens options and formulas to calculate lens power, diopters, the relationship of radius of curvature and index of refraction are also included in many courses. These courses can be split into different levels to cover all the material necessary.
These optical courses help students become familiar with techniques, procedures, and theories used in optometric settings including visual acuity measurement, checking for refractive errors, keratometry, depth perception, equipment and instrumentation. These courses also offer information on calibration and OSHA and EPA requirements, as well as a large amount of other subjects. They are usually broken up into several classes to cover the vast amount of information that needs to be learned.
Optical Dispensing, Ophthalmic Dispensing Clinical
These courses, often split into different levels for basic and advanced topics, educate on basic and advanced principles on dispensing including prescription analysis, the selection of eyeglass frames and lenses, facial measurements fitting, adjustment and repair, dispensing practices like ophthalmic A.N.S.I. standards and much more.
Courses here are often split into levels because of the amount of information, and students will learn everything relating to contact lenses, from the history to patient evaluation to the use of new materials. Students will also receive instruction in insertion, removal, proper care, instruments and corneal physiology. Information on specialty contacts like RGP lenses and astigmatic lenses, and all other facets relating to the design, manufacturing, prescription, ordering, use, and management of contact lenses will also be learned.
Optical Business Management
These courses teach the basics and more advanced topics on managing and optical business including everything from keeping inventory level, payroll, ethics, insurance, advertising, and more topics. Some courses even focus on salesmanship, which can help opticians move to other positions like sales representatives.
Clinicals, Ophthalmic Lab
Clinicals or lab courses are used to help students with real time simulations in the whole process from making the frames and lenses, determining prescriptions, use of instruments for measurements, repair, adjustments, and other situations where the students can gain some real world experience. Clinicals can be spread out through different semesters to help students apply the knowledge obtained from courses.