Ophthalmic laboratory technicians—also known as manufacturing opticians, optical mechanics or optical goods workers—make prescription eyeglass and contact lenses. Prescription lenses are curved in such a way that light is correctly focused onto the retina of the patient’s eye, improving vision. Some ophthalmic laboratory technicians manufacture lenses for other optical instruments, such as telescopes and binoculars.
Ophthalmic laboratory technicians must know and understand how to use machinery. They cut, grind, edge and finish lenses according to specifications provided by dispensing opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. They also may insert lenses into frames to produce finished glasses. Although some lenses still are produced by hand, technicians increasingly use automated equipment.
Ophthalmic laboratory technicians work in laboratories or workshops or in large eyeglass stores. They have limited contact with the public since they work behind the scenes. Their workplaces are generally bright, with running machines. They wear goggles to protect their eyes and spend a good part of their workday standing.
Nearly all ophthalmic laboratory technicians learn their skills on the job. Employers who hire trainees usually require that applicants have a high school degree.
Manual dexterity and the ability to do precision work are essential; courses in science, mathematics and computers are also valuable.
Learn More About a Career as an Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician
- Watch a video profile about ophthalmic laboratory technicians (in the Health Science category).
- Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
- National Academy of Opticianry
- Opticians Association of America
- The Vision Council