A trained employee who crafts eyeglasses and other types of optical lenses is known as an optical laboratory technician. The majority of optical technicians are high school graduates who complete their training in the lab, though some may seek additional training and certification at a vocational college. Technicians are important members of an optometrist or ophthalmologist’s team because they are in charge of taking the patient’s prescription and matching the corrective lenses to the eyeglass frames. After that, the finished eyeglasses are delivered to the patient for final adjustments. The tech is responsible for maintaining the optical lab and its equipment in addition to creating lenses.
An optical laboratory technician is usually part of a larger team that works in a store or at an ophthalmologist’s office. In some cases, the lens manufacturing is done in a separate lab, with multiple technicians filling prescriptions and sending them to one or more offices. The first appointment for a patient is usually with an eye doctor to determine the best corrective lenses for his vision problems. The optometrist or ophthalmologist will then give the prescription to the technician, who will put the patient’s glasses together.
The optical laboratory technician will select the appropriate lens blank and apply any tints or other special treatments that the patient requires once he has the prescription. Lensometers, curve generators, and fining machines are among the ophthalmic instruments that techs will need to complete this procedure. The majority of the work of grinding and polishing the lenses is done automatically, but the technician must monitor the process and ensure that the finished lenses match the prescription.
The optical laboratory technician will inspect the lenses for scratches and other imperfections after they have been polished, and then insert the finished lenses into the frame. Depending on the patient’s needs and current eyewear trends, the tech may need to work with a variety of frames and rims. The patient will try on the glasses once they are finished, and the final fitting will take place. If the glasses have issues, the technician may need to make minor adjustments or restart the entire process if there are serious flaws.
Lab technicians are also employed to make other types of optical lenses for use in telescopes, microscopes, binoculars, and other vision-enhancing devices in addition to making glasses. Many of these items are produced in large factories, but some lenses require technicians to perform smaller-scale precision work. An optical laboratory technician can also repair all types of lenses that have been scratched or broken.