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Optical Technician
Optical technicians prepare lenses in accordance with prescriptions from optometrists and ophthalmologists. Spectacles and contact lenses are important visual aids to anyone with visual problems. Optical technicians render a valuable service by producing high quality spectacles and contact lenses.

Optical technicians receive specific instructions concerning the lenses, from optometrists or ophthalmologists. Prescriptions specify details about the strength of the lenses, their size and shape, location of the optical centre and the position of bifocal segments, if required, the type of frame, etc.

They study prescriptions carefully and decide on the raw materials and processes to be used. They select the right kind of lens blanks and examine the blank lens for defects in the glass, curvature, thickness and size. The lens is then cut with a machine to produce the prescribed curve, and then buffed and polished.

The surfacing, setting of curves, smoothing and polishing, shaping and glazing of lenses and the final checking, all need to be done carefully. The lenses are measured, marked and cut to fit the frames and the finished lenses are then mounted into the frames.

Optical technicians also repair damaged lenses and frames and prepare contact lenses. They work in a well-equipped laboratory, which may be noisy at times due to the polishing and grinding machinery.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with your hands
- good employment opportunities and steady employment
- pride taken in good craftsmanship

Demanding aspects
- continually doing detailed work
- frustration when an expensive lens breaks
- working in a relatively noisy environment

An optical technician should:
- enjoy precision work;
- be patient and accurate;
- be a perfectionist as only perfect results are acceptable;
- have mechanical aptitude;
- have finger dexterity and a steady hand;
- have good eye-hand coordination;
- have good eyesight.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Engineering Graphics and Design

Diploma: N.Dip: Optical Dispensing - CPUT

Training ( from 3 to 5 years) is obtained in the work situation. Optical technicians are then qualified and free to specialize in a particular field.

After complying with all the necessary requirements, qualified optical technicians have to register with the Interim National Medical and Dental Council of South Africa.

A series of short courses in the form of single subject modules is organized by the Ophthalmic Prescription Manufacturers' Association.

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers produces learning booklets.

- Optical laboratories
- Manufacturers of optical instruments
- Optometrists
- Ophthalmologists
- Self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can open own business

South African Optometric Association
P?O?Box 2925
Halfway House, 1685
228 Nupen Crescent
Halfway House Ext 12
Tel: (011) 805-4517 Fax: 086 636 7600