New York City College of Technology’s Vision Care Technology Department is committed to offering cutting-edge technology to meet the current and future needs of the ophthalmic profession.
The average entry-level salary for a fully licensed graduate in a full-time position is $35,000 to $40,000. Salary range also depends on other qualifications an individual brings to the work setting. Sales experience, computer literacy and/or business skills can increase the candidate’s salary. Annual salaries for experienced licensed opticians in a full time position can range from $56,600 – $60,000. A licensed optician who may want to open his or her own professional practice will make considerably more money annually.
The field of vision care technology encompasses three main professions of the eye care specialists and their ancillary positions. Each profession involves specific duties and requires a specific level of education. These professions, called “The three O's” are:
The ophthalmologist is a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) whose specialty is the eye. The ophthalmologist (MD) examines the eye, diagnoses and treats ocular diseases using surgery or drugs, and refracts the eye.
The optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) who is licensed to provide primary eye care services. An optometrist examines for, diagnoses and non-surgically treats many eye diseases. Optometrists also diagnose and prescribe optical corrections such as glasses or contact lenses for visual conditions and defects.
The optician analyzes and interprets prescriptions, measures, adapts, selects and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses for the correction of visual and ocular anomalies
An optician / ophthalmic dispenser must:
A licensed optician can specialize in many aspects of vision care technology, leading to a variety of professions:
The vision care technologist is a licensed optician who can assist specialists of ophthalmology and optometry to provide a full scope of vision care. They are likely to work in medical settings, e.g., a medical office or clinic. These eye care professionals’ responsibilities will likely include obtaining medical histories from patients, administering diagnostic tests, performing patient testing utilizing computerized and automated technology and assisting in specialized pre and post-surgical testing. The vision care technologist must be very personable, comfortable with cutting edge technology and appreciative of the professionalism of a medical setting.
The licensed contact lens practitioner measures for, evaluates and selects the proper contact lens modality to correct for visual and ocular diseases of the eye as prescribed by an ophthalmologist and optometrist. Many opticians specialize in contact lenses, while others incorporate contact lens fitting into a general practice of vision care. Possible specialties of the contact lens practitioner include pediatrics, prosthetics and rigid gas permeable lenses. Fitting contact lenses requires considerable skill, care and patience. Skills required for contact lens fitting include a comprehensive knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the eye and of specialized instrument procedures. Additional certification is needed to fit contact lenses in New York State.
The laboratory optician fabricates the prescription, specifies stock selection of lenses and frames, formulates lens specifications and performs all technical functions in the making of eyewear. The laboratory optician, also called a ophthalmic laboratory technician, usually has little contact with the public. He or she still needs to possess the managerial skills and communication skills of a dispensing optician. He or she needs to have supervisory and communication skills to work with the personnel on the sales floor and in the wholesale laboratories.
The vision care industry worldwide needs sales, management, service and consulting personnel. The associate degree in vision care technology will be invaluable in obtaining these business positions in that it provides familiarity with the optical industry to business-minded people.
Some dispensing opticians exclusively service certain markets with specific optical products. There are many interesting and lucrative markets. Examples are dispensers of luxury eyewear, sun wear, sports eyewear, occupational and safety glasses, pediatric, geriatric and low vision optical aids. Specialized Dispensing Opticians should enjoy working within their chosen market and have the technical knowledge to understand and provide for the patient’s optical needs with appropriate optical products.