Okay, so I am totally guilty of this… for the longest time I thought that the people that helped me pick out frames and sold me a pair of prescription glasses were just sales clerks. At one point I actually thought an optician was another word for an optometrist or eye doctor.
Nope. Wrong answer.
So, who are those people working in the eyeglasses department? What exactly does an optician do?
My daughter and I had a really cool experience speaking to Danielle Ross at the Real Canadian Superstore on Walker Rd. here in Windsor. Danielle is a registered optician and the manager of the Real Canadian Superstore Optical Department at this location. She has been a registered optician for more than twenty years.
What does an optician do?
Danielle gave us the best explanation for what is an optician, one that will stick in my head from now on — An optician is like a pharmacist for your eyes. The optometrist, or doctor of optometry, gives you a comprehensive eye exam, which includes, among other things, measuring your eyes for prescription lenses. He/she then writes out a prescription, and then just like a pharmacist fill a prescription that a doctor has given for medicine, an optician fills the prescription for corrective lenses.
Grace wanted to know, “How does your machine know what kind of lenses I need?” So Danielle let us take a sneak peek in the backroom, where she showed us the machines that she uses to measure the lenses before cutting them to fit the frames. She explained how the newer lensmeter automatically “reads” the lenses, and how they also have an older model where you measure it manually.
Tips on how to pick the right frames…
Danielle was able to give us tons of tips on how to pick the right frames, and not just fashion tips like what shape of frames best suit your face shape, but totally practical, need-to-know things. For example, if they fit right, the eyes should be in the centre of the frames, and how to pick glasses to accommodate your eyelashes.
Yeah, I’d never heard that second bit before either. I mean I’ve been wearing glasses for almost thirty years and no one has ever mentioned eyelashes before while helping me choose my frames. But then my daughter has these beautiful long thick lashes, which apparently means we need to look for frames that curve a bit further out so that the lashes won’t constantly be flicking across the lenses and causing smudging. Neat to know, eh?
Optician Questions Answered
Grace and I had fun learning a bit about what an optician does (and also trying on pretty much every frame in the store) before finally settling on her new pair of glasses.
My junior reporter had a few more questions which Danielle was gracious enough to answer:
When does the average kid first start to need glasses? What is the average age?
The average age is 7 or 8 years old. Girls are sometimes a little later than boys.
Why do some people need glasses?
Well there are a bunch of factors, but a lot of it boils down to genetics. If your parents are nearsighted (aka myopia) it’s more likely that you will be too.
My grandmother wears trifocals – do kids ever wear bifocals or trifocals?
Yes. People need bifocal (or trifocal) glasses because sometimes more than one focal length is needed to see things clearly at different distances. It’s pretty rare for kids to need bifocals or trifocals, but it does happen.
Why did you start offering this program where kids get free glasses?
Cost is one of the biggest barriers to children seeing correctly so we (Loblaw) felt it was important to remove this barrier. Through the Kids See Free program, kids ages four to 10 receive any frame valued at $49 with single vision, polycarbonate “kids safe” lenses for free once per year. Vision is such an important part of learning, and cost shouldn’t be a barrier to vision.
How many kids need to come and get glasses in a week?
I’m one of two opticians that work here. I personally see about twenty kids in a week. So the total number for our optical department is probably about double that.
Interesting stuff, right?
Thanks to the very patient and knowledgeable Danielle for answering our questions, and for helping Grace pick out the perfect new pair of eyeglasses.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Loblaw. As always, my words and opinions are all my own.