Here at RSO we have a fully functional optical lab. We have at least five clinics for which we trace, cut, edge, and fit lenses into frames. This means there is always an abundance of orders to be completed on a daily basis.
You will learn and be competent on all the lab equipment, so you will be able to take a frame with no lenses all the way to the end product, and be able to fit them on the patient correctly.
In the optical, you not only learn the art of making glasses, but you also will be interacting with patients; helping them pick out a frame to fit their needs, dispensing their completed glasses, and fitting and adjusting their glasses before they leave. You will also learn how to interact with frame companies and how to look up benefits from insurance carriers.
Each week, during your 3rd year, you will have at least one day of optical. Some of your days will be extremely busy, with many patients looking for new glasses or adjustments, other days will be slower, and you will get to spend more time in the lab cutting lens and making sure the final products are within tolerances. In the optical, we carry hundreds of frames, from economic frames to higher end frames like Ray Ban and Fendi.
You will have to learn how to establish what style and price range a patient is looking for. This is an art, and not so much a science. In our optical, you will be lead by some excellent opticians that will teach you their art.
You may be wondering, “what exactly goes into making a pair of glasses?”
Well first, you start out with a frame, which has no lenses. Depending on what lenses the patient orders will determine how soon we will receive the stock lenses from the vendor. We have a few vendors that we order our lenses from: Paragon and Hoya are the major companies.
The patient also has many other choices to make; will they choose anti-glare coating, transitions, high index, single vision, bifocal, or progressive. We make many single vision lenses, meaning there is only one power of prescription in the lens, where bifocals and progressives have a separate prescription in the top portion for distance vision and in the bottom for near vision. Anti-glare coating reduces the amount of reflections that people will see on your glasses from the sun or overhead lights.
It will also decrease the glare from on-coming headlights when driving at night or reflections from computer screens.
Many of you know what transition lenses are, they react to UV radiation from the sun and darken when outside in the sunlight, but when you come back inside the lenses lighten until they are almost completely clear. People will either love or hate transition lenses. It all depends on the patient and their needs.
High index allows the lens to be thinner and is useful in high prescriptions. Any of these upgrades make the lens a premium lens, so there is an extra price the patient will pay.
So, now that we have the lenses in our hands, we are ready to trace and edge the lenses, so we can fit them in the frame. First, we use the tracer. This machine takes thousands of readings per millimeter, so the lenses will fit perfectly in the frame.
After we have the frame traced, we can get the lenses cut. This is when we put the lens in the edger, and it uses the readings from the tracer to cut and edge the lenses perfectly.
Once the machine is done cutting the lens, we can fit it in the frame, and now you are halfway done with the pair of glasses. Now you will complete the same process for the other lens. Lastly, we will clean and check the lenses on the lensometer to make sure they meet the tolerances set for every type of lens. A lensometer allows us to check the prescription in a pair of glasses.
Now the glasses are ready to be dispensed to their owner!
There are many choices to navigate your patient through, but we are always trying to give the patient the lens that will suit their needs well. It may seem confusing right now, but through the many different courses during your first two years, you will be well equipped to help these patients!
This year our optical hosted a trunk show at the Rosenberg School of Optometry. A trunk show is an event where the vendors for our optical bring in many styles of frames and offer discounted rates on the glasses for that day. This year we had many vendors come in, such as: Ray Ban, Dolce and Gabana, Fendi, and a few others. These shows are a great way to see a variety of different style frames from the vendors and get an amazing deal on some designer frames!
In the UIW Eye Institute Optical you will learn everything you need to know in order to measure, cut and fit frames and lenses on patients. At first it may feel overwhelming because of the many different elements to being successful in the optical, but with time you will master the skills required. Have no fear; you will have plenty of chances to become comfortable with the many different machines that we use in the optical lab. This is just one aspect of your optometric career that will prove to be very rewarding!