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Optician Q+A

Bryan, our optical manager, sheds some light on what it takes to be an expert Optican.

For our most recent blog post, I talked with our optical lab manager, Bryan, about the importance of optician experience and attention to detail. Besides getting the prescription correct in the exam room, there are so many more steps that are important to the entire glasses making process. We edge and assemble most of our frames and lenses in our on-site optical lab, and when you come in the next time you can peek in to watch the entire process in action. Bryan has over 10 years in the optical industry and he has been board certified for the last 2 years. Here is some of his expert opinion on some common questions he hears from patients:

What does an ABO certified optician offer that is unique?

The American Board of Opticianry, or ABO, is the largest and most prestigious Optician's certification organization in the world, recognizing individuals whose Opticianry skills and knowledge meet predetermined standards. Not only is prepping for passing the exam a great challenge, but the continuing education courses that are necessary to keep your license gives certified opticians real confidence since they are sure to be up to date on all of the latest technologies and advances in the eyewear world. What makes having the certification unique, particularly in Texas, is that it is *not* a requirement by state law to have an eyeglass shop open. When I worked in optical in Ohio, we had to close the store if there was not a licensed optician on the clock working. Regardless of what is required by law, at Optique we are always pushing our Opticians to work towards taking the test. Currently, the majority of our full time floor staff are licensed.

Why is optician training important for the process of making glasses....don't the machines just do everything?

The machines certainly have limitations. And believe it or not, the machines can mess up. Also, you need proper training to sort of help the machines along the way, and essentially tell them what you need them to do. Further, all of our glasses go through a rigorous final inspecting process that just can't be replicated without proper training. Without knowledge of ANSI industry standards and having real training under your belt, there would be no way of knowing when a pair of glasses was made wrong; hence what we see far too often in the world of online glasses shopping.

Why do you have to take so many measurements for my glasses......can't I just guess those numbers and order them online?

Well, no, you really can't. The online ordering process for glasses is so flawed, that even an educated guess on measurements is almost guaranteed to be wrong. For example, the most common measurement requested for an online glasses order is the pupilary distance, or PD. When I am final inspecting a pair of glasses, I generally have a 2.5 millimeter tolerance for this measurement. What that means is that if the glasses were made with a PD measurement that is just 3 mm too wide or narrow, I will fail that pair of glasses and have to remake them. And of course there are other measurements we take when we sell glasses, depending on the type of lens needed for each specific patient, that are absolutely crucial for you to see properly out of your glasses, such as OC Height, Segment Height, Vertex Distance, Pantoscopic Tilt, and Frame wrap. I have yet to see an online glasses retailer ask for any these measurements. The reason why they don't ask for them is because even if they wanted them, they could not get them. You need the frame, the patient, and the optician to all be at the same place at the same time to obtain these, and that is just an impossibility when it comes to online glasses shopping.

I have a high prescription but I want to get really big trendy glasses......any frame will work for me right?

No, the larger the frame, the thicker and heavier the lenses. If you are a high RX patient, how a frame looks on you when you are just shopping around and trying stuff on can look quite different when a prescription is put in them. There are many variables to consider when choosing a frame, and it is the Optician's job to predict how the glasses will look *after* an RX is put in them, and to style you and steer you in the right direction when choosing your new glasses. That said, there are plenty of trendy frames well suited for higher prescriptions.

I was told I need these progressive lenses but they are so expensive......why shouldn't I just get the cheapest ones since they are all the same?

Because they aren't all the same. Lens technology has come a very long way since progressive lenses first came out. What you are essentially paying for when selecting a progressive lens design is your comfort level. The newer, higher quality designs have come a long way to minimize periphery distortion, maximize clarity, and the ease of transitioning through different focal lengths. Additionally, we now have progressive designs that factor in your lifestyle. Do you like to cook? How active are you? Do you golf? How many hours a day do you spend at a computer, or reading? There are ways an Optician can maximize your comfort in a progressive design just on how you answer some of these basic lifestyle questions. Modern lens technology can be pretty fascinating!

It always seems like I am being up sold when I buy glasses......why do I really need this anti reflective coating?

Anti Reflective coating is a crucial lens feature for obtaining the clearest vision possible. The coating virtually eliminates reflections from the front and back surfaces of your lenses, which can get particularly overwhelming while driving at night. Not only does it improve the clarity in your vision, but it reduces eye strain, eye fatigue, and certainly makes your glasses look more attractive! I can confidently tell anybody that if you are a first time anti reflective wearer, you will immediately regret not doing it sooner. That was certainly my experience!

Bryan and all of the opticians are happy to answer any of your questions regarding your glasses options. They are all dedicated to helping you make the best choice possible for both your style and your vision demands. They will always help educate you as to why a certain frame or lens will be the absolute best option for you!

-Dr. Z