Distance Learning Course of 12 Lessons
If you think you’d like to become an optical assistant, this is the course for you! We’ll take a comprehensive look into the diverse world of optical assisting—a world that’s becoming more exciting all the time. You’ll see why optometry is such an interesting field and how rewarding it can be to help people solve their vision problems.
You’ll be amazed to learn all the different places optical assistants can work. We’ll cover optical assisting in private practice, healthcare clinics, the military, teaching facilities, and in retail sales. You’ll discover the personal and professional skills needed to work in a front and back office and in an optical dispensary and lab.
You’ll find out how fun it is to help others select the right eyeglass frames—getting familiar with all the things optical assistants must know about frames, styles, lenses, contact lenses, and working with people. You’ll also discover how our amazing eyes work and come to understand some common eye conditions. In addition, we’ll delve into specialty areas that optical assistants can work in such as refractive surgery centers, low vision clinics, and vision training practices. And finally, we’ll cover how to become certified and licensed, which will open up even more opportunities for you and identify you as an expert.
Dr. Beverly Smith is a Doctor of Optometry and has been in private practice for over 24 years. She is the founder of a consulting firm that helps new practitioners start and manage their own eye care practices. Beverly holds an M.B.A. in Healthcare Management, and she has published articles in the professional journals, New O.D. and Women in Optometry. She has taught dozens of optical staff over the past 24 years, many of whom went on to become licensed opticians, certified paraoptometrics, and Doctors of Optometry.
This course run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have to be present when the lesson is released, but you must complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
A new section of each course starts on the second or third Wednesday of each month. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.
Wednesday – Lesson 01
In this first lesson, you’ll get an overview of the world of optical assisting. You’ll find out how you can land a great job even if you don’t have experience. You’ll discover the wide range of opportunities this field offers—from retail sales to assisting in a health care setting. We’ll talk about how a career as an optical assistant can lead you to own your own business, get a high-paying job as a manager, or teach at a college or university. By the end of the lesson, you’ll have a sense of whether this fun and in-demand career is right for you!
Friday – Lesson 02
Optical assisting is all about vision, and today we’ll begin our in-depth exploration of the profession at the logical starting point: the eye. How does this remarkable little biological machine help create a vivid, constantly-moving picture of the world around you? We’ll take a tour of the parts of the eye, and you’ll find out how they work together to create the miracle of vision. The basic eye anatomy you’ll master in this lesson will give you a big head start on the path to becoming an optical assistant.
Wednesday – Lesson 03
The eyes are amazing, but they don’t always work perfectly—and that’s why optical professionals are always in demand. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the focusing problems that cause millions of people to need glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy, or low vision aids. In addition, we’ll talk about common eye disorders (everything from cataracts to sties), and you’ll discover how medical conditions like diabetes and allergies can affect the eyes. I’ll also share several of the important tips we give patients for protecting their eyes—tips that can protect your eyesight as well!
Friday – Lesson 04
Did you ever wonder how a person who’s color-blind sees the world? Today you’ll find out—and learn why there’s more than one type of color-blindness. In addition, you’ll discover what “lazy eye” is, and how it’s treated. We’ll also explore what it means to be legally blind (and why many people who think they’re legally blind really aren’t!).
Wednesday – Lesson 05
In this lesson, we look at front office optical assisting—a wonderful career opportunity if you’re a “people” person and a multi-tasker. We’ll start by talking about the front office assistant’s key role as a goodwill ambassador for a medical practice or business. Next, we’ll discuss triage, a skill that’s crucial to good patient care. Finally, we’ll explore the ins and outs of scheduling patients efficiently in order to keep an office running smoothly and happily. With this new knowledge, you’ll be ready to make a good impression if you step into a front office job.
Friday – Lesson 06
If you love helping people and you’re good at mastering new technology, back office assisting can be a great job for you. Today you’ll get the scoop on a very important back office skill: taking a patient’s medical history. We’ll also talk about pre-testing, and you’ll learn about some of the tests used to gather preliminary vision data about patients. In addition, we’ll take a peek at two specialty areas in back office assisting: contact lens fitting and surgical assisting. You’ll find this lesson particularly interesting if you’re seeking a medical career that involves lots of action and hands-on patient care.
Wednesday – Lesson 07
In this lesson, you’ll gain the power to understand a new language: the language of optical prescriptions! You’ll learn how those numbers and symbols on an eye doctor’s prescription translate into just the right lenses for a patient who’s farsighted, nearsighted, or astigmatic. In addition, you’ll find out the differences between soft and rigid contact lens prescriptions, and learn how to read each one. We’ll also explore the job of a bench optician—the all-important person who turns a doctor’s prescription into the perfect eyewear to suit a patient’s needs.
Friday – Lesson 08
Did your last pair of sunglasses make you look like a movie star or like a bug? Do your family members’ glasses flatter their faces or emphasize their facial flaws? Picking frame styles that make people look attractive and feel confident takes skill, and it’s one of the favorite jobs of most optical assistants. Today you’ll learn the insider secrets of eyeglass styling—and as a result, you’ll know how to pick great glasses for a customer or patient . . . or for yourself!
Wednesday – Lesson 09
These days, contact lenses don’t just correct vision problems but often make a fashion statement as well. They allow you to do things like change your eye color from green to brown or even create “tiger eyes” for a costume party! In this lesson, we’ll discuss how contact lenses help correct vision, and we’ll cover the fun subject of contact lens fads and fashions. In addition, you’ll find out how optical assistants fit contact lenses so they’re just right for each person’s eyes and how they educate patients about using their lenses correctly.
Friday – Lesson 10
Great customer service keeps people coming back to a business time after time. Today we’ll look at the best ways to make people feel welcome, respected, and well treated at every step of their visit to a doctor’s office or retail optical store. You’ll also get great tips for smoothing the waters if problems arise—something that can happen even in the best of businesses. In addition, you’ll learn how to tailor your customer service to people’s individual needs so every visitor feels like a VIP. What we cover won’t just help you be a better optical assistant—it will help you shine in any situation where “people skills” are key.
Wednesday – Lesson 11
Optical assisting offers you many different settings and specialties to choose from, and in this lesson, we’ll look at three of the most interesting specialties. First, you’ll learn about low vision clinics, where optical assistants help people with limited eyesight regain the ability to enjoy many of their favorite activities including cooking and reading (and often even driving!). Next, we’ll talk about vision therapy, a great choice if you love working with children. And finally, we’ll talk about the booming field of refractive surgery, in which optical assistants play a key role.
Friday – Lesson 12
If you’re entering optical assisting with your eye on career advancement (no pun intended!), then you should consider becoming certified. Certification puts you in line for promotions and management positions. In addition, certification can be the first step to teaching at a college or university, or even running your own business. Today we’ll look at the different types of certification you can achieve in the optical assisting field. We’ll cover how to prepare for a certification test and the kinds of questions you can expect if you take one. With that information in hand, you’ll be prepared to decide if certification is the right route for you.