Opticians-Can You Band Together Or Are You Doomed To Always Be ‘Second-Rate?


CornealiaEvery day, in my little virtual world, I read about issues that are unique to the optician profession.  Because they work in a quasi-medical/retail environment, opticians are treated differently than optometrists or ophthalmologists.  I’ve even heard a complaint that the ‘optometric technician said these glasses weren’t right’.  Wait, what?

Well, this, my dearest spectacle fitters, has a simple cause. YOU.  Every other allied health care professional has national organizations that see to the advancement and protection of their licensure.  What do opticians have? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.  Yes, there is the ABO, the NAOO, etc. But the average optician doesn’t belong to these groups, they don’t even contribute to these organizations.  They don’t support them.  Put that against the American Optometric Association, which is funded (and well-supported) by a large group of ODs.  Enough so that the AOA can afford lobbyists, can ensure that the optometric field is protected, even expanded.

What are YOU doing, eye-peeper keepers, to forward your licensure?  Are you attempting to get involved on a regional or state level?  Do you even realize that if there were a national standard of care and licensure for the optician community (all 50 states, mind you, would have to institute this), you could easily have those third party insurance plans by the short hairs within months?  Opticians get very little if any respect, and much of that stems from rules and regulations put into place by special interest groups for other eye care professionals.

Ok, so you, dear reader, are saying to yourself, ‘But, they have money, they make more money’.  Well, yes, that is true.  But if each of you got together in a local group, appointed a spokesperson and a set of potential needs, then had that person move on to regional meetings, state, national…all with grass-roots style marketing, imagine how quickly this unified front would be noticed by the other two ECP groups.  And here, IMHO are the root causes that need to be addressed, and the reasons why, until they are rectified, you will continue to be disparaged, and the ‘word of the doctor’ will carry more merit on your eyewear skills than your own expertise.

  1. Unified licensure in all 50 states.  Period.
  2. Standardized schooling-just like OD or MD school-that must be accredited by a national governing body.
  3. Lobbyists.  Even if that person is a well-spoken optician, and not a professional lobbyist. You must have representation.
  4. Abolishment of an OD or MD’s ability to hire Rosie the Riveter as his/her ‘optical stylist’ rather than spend the money on a qualified, licensed optician.
  5. End of “doctor re-do’s” at no charge.  If an MD writes a prescription, then has to change it for the patient, the pharmacist doesn’t give the patient a refund.  Why are you??  Hold the person who performed the exam accountable for their actions.
  6. Professionalism.  This, I think, is one of the most underrated skills of the optician community.  Stop bashing each other and undermining your ‘competition’. It makes you look petty.  You have to torture an MD or OD of any worth to get them to ever say a bad word about a ‘colleague’.
  7. Stop apologizing for the cost of your products and services.  Does the OD say, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Jones, I have to charge you $230 for your exam, contact lens fitting and year’s supply”? No. The fee is the fee. You offer a commodity. A service.  Be proud of yourself and what you sell, and the time it has taken you to accrue the knowledge you have.

Now, one last thing. Do I think these issues will be resolved?  No.  We, as a society, love to bitch and moan, but we are apathetic at heart. And the sad-no actually heartwrenching-part of all of this? It would take so little, because there are so many opticians, to accomplish so much.

Think about it.


Claire Goldsmith MidPage


  1. You are absolutely right on! I have been an optician for over 30 years. I love being an Optician and helping people see and look better. I have also seen for a long time that each and every optician, lab person, and manager no matter where they work should share their knowledge and training with each other.
    I have always wanted to have an organization for every one of the above people to come together and meet. Like COAT in Houston. This coming together would be an awesome experience for so many.
    The bashing of each other is very damaging and should never be done. In the optical community the sharing of knowledge is the only way to keep this industry going. The older optician has a lot of important information for the younger optician just starting. Each of us can learn and must take advantage of the others vast experience in the industry.

  2. We all know as eyes are the most delicate part of our body. Opticians, besides being doctor are always the best consultant for the patients. They always have to make their patients satisfied not only through the medical treatments but also by convincing them with a certain logic and the explanations relative to their defects. There is a lot to learn when you are an optician. Every day some new kind of eye defects comes to knowledge, and they have to deal with it in a sophistical way.

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