At some point, most people will need corrected eyewear. This is why there will always be a demand for skillful ophthalmic laboratory technicians. These specialists are the ones that produce prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses by hand or with automated equipment. Although an educational background in ophthalmic science increases job opportunities, on-the-job training strengthens levels of competency.

(Photo Courtesy of NaMee Donan)

(Photo Courtesy of NaMee Donan)

“While my bachelor’s degree and certification as an ophthalmic technician has helped, it has really been the hands-on training in a clinical setting that has developed by skills and allowed me to grow in this field,” said NaMee Donan, a technical and imaging services manager at Doheny Eye Center UCLA. “Mentorship by doctors in all different ophthalmic specialties has also been pivotal in my development as a technician.”

How is technology influencing your job duties?

“Imaging has become an integral part of diagnosing and following patients’ eye diseases over time, often requiring a patient to undergo imaging by a technician during each visit. As new technologies continue to emerge, it is the responsibility of the technician to learn new skills.”

How is technology causing your role to change?

“New diagnostic devices and the increase in the number of patients needing eye care have opened up a need for technicians to take on more tasks and become an active member of the patient care team. I have been afforded the proper training to be able to decide which testing a patient needs. Oftentimes, I perform this testing before the patient even sees the doctor. This empowerment has been enriching.”

What is the best way for a tech to secure sound employment?

“An ophthalmic technician must have a hunger to learn and a love of patient care. Maintaining ophthalmic technician certifications and keeping up-to-date on the latest devices your practice has is also important.”

What is your message to aspiring ophthalmic lab technicians?

“I encourage them to find an ophthalmology practice that makes mentorship and learning a priority. They must be willing to start at the bottom, learn all they can and maintain the underlying perspective that their career is helping preserve and save vision.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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