A dispensing optician fits eyeglasses and, in some states, contact lenses. They analyze and interpret prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists to determine which eyeglasses or contact lenses are best suited to the patient's lifestyle and visual needs.
The optician takes eye measurements to insure proper lens placement in the eyeglasses' frame and verifies the accuracy of the finished product. She or he also may manufacture (grind) lenses from raw materials and cut them to fit into the frame. Before designing contact lenses, the optician evaluates the patient's eyes under a special microscope and measures the curvature of the eye. The optician instructs the patient in the care and handling of contact lenses.
Opticians may hold an associate opticianry degree or may have apprenticed for a required number of hours. In most states that require an optician to be licensed, candidates must pass an examination given by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Some states also require that candidates pass a state board exam. Opticians can take the National Contact Lens Examination (NCLE), which in certain states allows them to fit and dispense contact lenses.