See how to become a contact lens optician with our career guide
What is a contact lens optician?
Take a look at the picture above. Did you even notice the contact lens at first? A contact lens optician specialises in fitting contact lenses and ensuring people look after their lenses and their eyes. It’s such a tiny little thing, but a contact lens can completely change someone’s life for the better, helping them to see more clearly and boost their self-confidence.
Contact lens opticians (CLOs) specialise in the fitting and supply of contact lenses. This is a growing profession, and one that is full of rewards. As well as supplying contact lenses, a contact lens optician can also qualify in Minor Eye Conditions, so you can look after people who present with a range of eye problems.
What are the benefits of being a contact lens optician?
Becoming a contact lens optician gives you a rewarding and flexible career…
- You can study while you work.
- Once you have the qualification there’s so much you can do. Many contact lens opticians enjoy working in High Street practices. Others work in a hospital setting, others may go into roles in the contact lens manufacturing industry.
- The job can offer a range of different working patterns.
- It gives you a chance to interact with people and know that you are making a difference to their lives by providing eye wear, eye care and advice.
- If you want to progress your career you can choose to focus on management, or take further training to become an optometrist.
What do you need to apply?
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.
Training to become a contact lens optician takes a further year. 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 and give you the chance to meet some of your fellow students.
How does the contact lens optician training work?
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 day release study or online study combined with two weeks of block release.
What skills do you need?
As a contact lens optician you will need to enjoy spending time with people and offering advice. You will need to be interested in dealing with technical data when choosing the best contact lenses for each individual. You will need good manual skills for contact lens insertion and removal. You will be both people and quality focused.
What does your working day look like?
As a contact lens optician you will spend the day talking to people, assessing their eyes and advising on the best contact lenses for their lifestyle. You will need to liaise with other members of the practice team.