Other Responsibilities of the optician While preparing patients for their examinations and helping them to fill their prescriptions are important tasks for opticians, they are not the only responsibilities that these eye care professionals must attend to. In fact, many opticians report that much of their time is actually spent on completing small repair assignments such as replacing lost or broken screws in the temples of eyeglasses, or fixing or replacing damaged nose pieces. These simple repairs use up a lot of time, while rarely contributing any income to the business, as most such work is done as a courtesy to regular customers.
Opticians are also usually the ones in charge of recording and maintaining inventory. They order new frames and then stock them when they come in. They are the ones who inventory the types and amounts of merchandise on hand. They also deal directly with sales representatives of different lenses, frames and contacts when they visit to promote products. Additionally, opticians are the ones who handle insurance, or managed vision care as it is known in the industry. They must make sure that all payments go where they need to go, by submitting them to patients, verifying them and if necessary helping doctors to collect them.
Opticians who create their own prescription lenses are called manufacturing opticians, or ophthalmic laboratory technicians, and they are in charge of cutting, grinding, edging and finishing lenses according to the set instructions that they either prepared themselves or received from a dispensing optician. While in the past this work was primarily done by hand, these days most of the manufacturing process is computerized machine-driven. Manufacturing opticians read the specifications, then choose a lens type and mark it to indicate how it should curve. They then place the lens in a device called a lens grinder, set it to the proper settings, and start the machine. Within minutes, the lens has been cut and can then be smoothed out by a second machine. Afterwards, the optician ensures that the lens has been prepared correctly, and then cuts it again so that it can fit within the chosen frame. Finally, if necessary, any tints or protective coatings are added to the lenses and it is assembled together with the frame.
Besides being healthcare workers and skilled tradesmen and women, opticians are equal parts business manages, human resources directors, customer relations specialists, and sales and marketing pros. They must regularly and effectively communicate with other professionals in the vision care field. They must make sure that their workplaces meet or exceed all company, local, state and federal policies and statutes. They need to demonstrate different products and concepts to the public, educating them about the different types of and care for corrective lenses. In fact, they share many tasks with retail employees, and some with management-level workers – in addition to their primary goal of filling prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and sometimes other low vision aids.