A career in optics

If you’re thinking about a career in optics, you can train to become either an optometrist or dispensing optician. We’ve included more information about these two professions below.

Read our fact sheet for more information about a career in vision care. We’ve also produced guidance for students with disabilities and other health conditions.

What is an optometrist?

An optometrist examines eyes, tests sight and prescribes spectacles or contact lenses for those who need them. They also fit spectacles or contact lenses, give advice on visual problems and detect any ocular disease or abnormality, referring the patient to a medical practitioner if necessary.

Optometrists may also share the care of patients who have chronic ophthalmic conditions with a medical practitioner. Once qualified, optometrists can undertake further training to specialise in certain eye treatment by therapeutic drugs.

What is a dispensing optician?

A dispensing optician advises on, fits and supplies the most appropriate spectacles after taking account of each patient’s visual lifestyle and vocational needs. They also play an important role in advising and dispensing low vision aids to those who are partially sighted.

Specialty qualifications

Once an optometrist or dispensing optician is registered with us, they can undertake extra training to receive a specialty qualification which allows them to perform additional duties. On completion, practitioners are placed onto a specialty register.

This is guidance on applying to be a provider