What is a Contact Lens Optician?
A contact lens optician (CLO) specialises in fitting contact lenses and ensuring people look after their lenses and their eyes. They are trained to provide the most suitable contact lenses for their patients, and to monitor a person’s eye health following fitting to ensure no complications occur.
As well as supplying contact lenses, a contact lens optician can also qualify in Minor Eye Conditions, so they can look after people who present with a range of acute eye problems.
Contact lens opticians are expected to have a high level of expertise in ocular anatomy, and contact lens related complications and maintain life-long up-to-date knowledge for best current practices and products.
Is this the right career for me?
As a contact lens optician, you will need to enjoy spending time with people and offering advice and have excellent communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills. You will need to be interested in dealing with technical data when choosing the best contact lenses for everyone.
Where do Contact Lens Opticians work?
Contact Lens Opticians generally work in community practice, although some specialise in complex lenses and work in hospitals. Some contact lens opticians work in research and development for contact lens manufacturers.
How much do Contact Lens Opticians earn?
Starting salaries for qualified dispensing opticians typically range from around £18,000 to £25,000, depending on your experience. Contact lens opticians may earn more. Dispensing optician job profile | Prospects.ac.uk
What career progression opportunities are available for Contact lens opticians?
In Wales, we have the Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) Service, which contact Lens opticians can become accredited with in order to provide enhanced patient care in the community, including managing and treating minor eye conditions Eye Care Wales | Eye Health Examination Wales - EHEW. It is also possible to undertake further training to become an optometrist.
How do I become a Contact Lens Optician?
You need to qualify as a dispensing optician to become a contact lens optician. You need 5 GCSEs grades 4-9 or A-C to apply for the dispensing optician course. These must include English, Maths and Science. If you have five years or more experience in optical practice can apply with just English and Maths GCSE grade A-C (4 to 9 from 2017). Access courses are available for those without the right qualifications.
You can become a dispensing optician while you work. You can opt to complete a three-year distance learning course including a four-week residential block, or a three-year, day release course. There is also the option to take a two-year, full-time diploma course, followed by one year working under supervision. Becoming a contact lens optician then requires a further year of study. Becoming a contact lens optician then requires a further year of study. Becoming a contact lens optician then requires a further year of study.
You can study for the Contact Lens Certificate while you work, by day release or via practice based learning, online coursework and two one-week periods of intensive study that will support you with your theory and practical studies.
All contact lens opticians practising in the UK must be registered with the General Optical Council (GOC), the profession’s regulatory body.
Do I need a degree?
Where can I train?
You'll need to complete a dispensing optician course approved by the General Optical Council, and pass the Professional Qualifying Examinations from the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO). What to study and where (optical.org)
Further information on training in the contact lens speciality is available here Contact lens specialty (optical.org).
Is there funding available?
There isn’t any NHS funding available for the training, but often an employer will sponsor you to undertake the contact lens certificate. There's no set minimum salary for the work done in community practice, but most employers pay at least the National Living Wage (if you're 25 or over) or the National Minimum Wage (if you're under 25). Many employers in community practice pay additional expenses such as course costs and Scheme for Registration fees.
Are there postgraduate opportunities?
In Wales, we have the Eye Health Examination Wales (EHEW) Service, which contact Lens opticians can become accredited with in order to provide enhanced patient care in the community, including managing and treating minor eye conditions Eye Care Wales | Eye Health Examination Wales - EHEW.
Do I need previous experience to apply for the course?
You need to have qualified as a dispensing optician before undertaking the contact lens certificate course.
How do I get experience?
There are numerous optical practices across the country that may offer work experience. Start by contacting your local practice.