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Dispensing Opticians supply, fit and sell glasses and contact lenses and low visual aids to a prescription provided by an optometrist (ophthalmic optician) and eye surgeon.
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How to become a Dispensing Optician


Dispensing Opticians supply, fit and sell glasses and contact lenses and low visual aids to a prescription provided by an optometrist (ophthalmic optician) and eye surgeon. They do not perform eye tests, but give advice to clients on the best type of glasses for their particular need.

Aspects of Work
  • Central Aspects
    • Providing a service to members of the public
    • Understanding the scientific uses and properties of materials
    • Being accurate with numbers in counting, measuring and arithmetic
    • Being aware of and taking into account the feelings, views or behaviour of others

  • Secondary Aspects
    • Understanding and using physics
    • Keeping accurate records or reports
    • Providing information
    • Work requiring accuracy and attention to detail

  • Other Aspects
    • Explaining ideas and information to people
    • Being interested in human biology
    • Doing small and detailed tasks needing careful handling
Work Activities

Dispensing opticians supply and fit spectacles according to the prescription provided by an optometrist (ophthalmic optician). They measure the face and features of the patient precisely, in order to place the lenses at the right angle and ensure that the spectacle frame is comfortable and stable. They then prepare detailed instructions for the technicians who make the lenses.

If any sign of injury, abnormality or disease of the eye is spotted, dispensing opticians refer the patient to a doctor or optometrist for further attention.

Dispensing opticians advise clients on the choice of spectacles, which may involve aspects such as colour vision, problems of lighting and eye safety in industry. They must know enough about the relative merits of glass, plastic, laminated, coated and reinforced lenses, to help the client choose a lens appropriate to their needs (bearing in mind their job and leisure interests). They must also understand how lenses are made and the theory underlying the prescription.

Some experienced dispensing opticians specialise in the dispensing of contact lenses, optical aids for the partially sighted, or the fitting of artificial eyes.

Personal Qualities and Skills

You need to enjoy working with people from all backgrounds and be able to communicate sensitively with them. You also need a scientific, methodical approach to your work. You should be willing to promote sales to customers and be able to develop administrative and managerial skills.

Pay and Opportunities

A qualified Dispensing Optician earns in the range of EUR 28,500 - EUR 36,500 a year. Top earners may make up to EUR 47,500 a year. Pay varies depending on the duties and level of responsibility of the Dispensing Optician.

Dispensing opticians work a basic 39-hour week. Saturday work and some late finishes may be required.

Employers throughout the country include hospital eye clinics, dispensing opticians' practices, prescription houses, frame and lens manufacturers, ophthalmic instrument manufacturers and suppliers.

Dispensing opticians may also work as sales representatives, or become self-employed in their own practice.

Note: Wage and salary figures quoted under Pay & Opportunities are approximate and are for guideline purposes only. These may vary depending on experience or economic and local circumstances. Any variances are outside the control of FAS.

Entry Routes and Training

There are no training courses available to students in Ireland. Students have the option of studying with a British institution by correspondence or attending full or part-time courses. The association of British Dispensing Opticians run the only recognized course.

Students who choose to study Ophthalmic Dispensing in Britain have the following choices available to them.

You can qualify as a dispensing optician by either both work and study, or by a full-time course followed by practical experience.

The first route involves finding employment in a dispensing optician's practice. Study options include:
  • completing a distance learning course
  • attending a local college by day-release (if you live near a college that offers the course)
The full-time study route can be done by:
  • completing a two-year diploma or a three-year B.Sc. degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing with Management at Bradford College
  • 7 Complete a 2 year diploma at City College or Glasgow Caledonian University
If you qualify by completing a full-time college course, you must then work under the supervision of a registered dispensing optician or optometrist for one year before you can register with the General Optical Council, and pass final practical examinations To work in Ireland it is necessary to register with the opticians Board. To get professional indemnity insurance you can become a member of the Irish Association of Dispensing Optician.


Candidates should check the prospectuses from the individual institutions for course details and specific entry requirements.

Adult Opportunities

No formal upper age limit exists for entry into this occupation.

Normal academic requirements for entry to training may be reduced for applicants who have at least ten years of experience as an optical technician or optician's receptionist. Such students must, however, be up to Leaving Certificate standard in Maths in order to be able to cope with the course.

Further Information

  • AGCAS: Retail Selling, Buying and Wholesaling. CSU. (AGCAS Booklet)
  • Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Godmersham Park, Godmersham, Canterbury, Kent CT4 7DT.
    Telephone: +44 1227 738829
    Email: general@abdo.org.uk
    Website: http://www.abdo.org.uk

  • Association of Dispensing Opticians, PO Box 9013, 12 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
    Telephone: (01) 668 0566

  • Association of Optometrists of Ireland, by The Secretary, 18 Greenmount Office Park, Dublin 6W.
    Telephone: (01) 453 8850
The above information was sourced from the Fas Website http://www.fas.ie.