What is an optician?

An optician (pronounced “op-TISH-in”) is an eye care specialist who helps you choose the right eyeglasses, contact lenses and other vision correction devices. They work with ophthalmologists and optometrists to take care of your eyes.

Your optician will help you find the right glasses or contacts after your optometrist or ophthalmologist prescribes them.

Is an optician a doctor?

Opticians aren’t medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathy (DO). They don’t diagnose or treat issues that affect your eyes and vision.

Opticians are technicians who receive specialized training to help ophthalmologists and optometrists before, during and after your eye exam.

What are the educational requirements to be an optician?

In the U.S., every state has different laws and requirements for someone to be an optician. Opticians usually need a high school or equivalent diploma, depending on where they work.

Opticians in most states need a license to practice. License requirements are different in each state, but they usually require opticians to have a technical degree (like an associate’s degree). Many states require opticians to work a set amount of time (either a number of years or hours) before they’re fully licensed.

What does an optician do?

Opticians help you choose eyeglasses and contacts that fit your vision needs.

They’ll explain which options are available based on your prescription and any other conditions you have. Your optician will also fit your corrective lenses. They’ll adjust your eyeglass frames to fit your face and can show you how to wear your contacts safely.

Your optician will also assist your eye care specialist before, during and after your routine eye exam.

What kinds of eye problems does an optician treat?

Opticians can’t diagnose or treat conditions that affect your eyes. They work with optometrists and ophthalmologists, but don’t provide medical care.

Opticians use prescriptions from your optometrist or ophthalmologist to make and fit corrective lenses that will give you as close to 20/20 vision as possible.

When should I have my eyes examined?

Having your eyes and vision checked regularly can help an eye care specialist identify problems right away. How often you should get your eyes checked usually depends on your age:

  • Kids: A pediatrician should check your child’s eyes at every well-child visit until they’re old enough to start school, and then every one to two years.
  • Adults younger than 40: Every five to 10 years.
  • Adults between 40 and 54: Every two to four years.
  • Adults older than 55: Every one to three years.

You might need your eyes checked more often than this if you wear glasses or contacts or need another type of visual aid. People with diabetes also need their eyes checked more often than what’s listed here.

Ask an eye care specialist how often you need an eye exam.

How do I take care of my eyes?

Tell your provider about any changes in your vision. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, have your eyes examined regularly so your provider can adjust your prescription as often as necessary.

Talk to your provider if you notice any symptoms in your eyes, including:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an optician and an optometrist?

Opticians and optometrists work together to take care of your eyes and vision.

Optometrists can diagnose and treat issues in your eyes. They’ll also conduct your regular eye exams. They can’t perform surgery on your eyes. If you need eye surgery, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist.

Opticians work with optometrists and ophthalmologists. They’ll fit you for glasses, contacts or other vision correction aids. They can also adjust or replace your glasses, lenses or frames.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

An optician will work with you to make sure your glasses, contacts or other corrective lenses fit properly. They’ll show you how to use and care for your corrective lenses, and can adjust them if something doesn’t feel quite right.

Opticians don’t diagnose or treat new symptoms, so visit an optometrist, ophthalmologist or your regular healthcare provider if you notice your vision changing or experience new symptoms in or around your eyes.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/01/2022.


  • American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Difference between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician. (https://www.aapos.org/glossary/difference-between-an-ophthalmologist-optometrist-and-optician) Accessed 11/1/2022.
  • Opticians Association of America. FAQ. (https://oaa.org/faq) Accessed 11/1/2022.
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Opticians. (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/opticians-dispensing.htm) Accessed 11/1/2022.
  • U.S. National Eye Institute. Finding an Eye Doctor. (https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/healthy-vision/finding-eye-doctor) Accessed 11/1/2022.

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