Optician Training Resources

There are a lot of products available on the Internet that claim to be important to your dispensing optician education. While it may be true that many of these products may have some value, they often fall short of providing more value than their cost. The products that we have listed on this page were developed to give the optician a comprehensive understanding of both the theoretical and practical aspects of the industry. We have thoroughly reviewed each of the products below to ensure that they provide a level of value that meets or exceeds their cost. We are confident that you will find these resources to be invaluable to you as a student and as a practicing optician.

Optical Dispensing

System for Ophthalmic DispensingSystem for Ophthalmic Dispensing – This book is commonly regarded by opticians as the standard text for how to properly fit and adjust eye wear. The authors provide details  about every aspect of the dispensing process from frame selection to fitting, adjusting, and repairing. Many students use this book to prepare for certification exams and state licensing exams. Practicing opticians usually have a copy of the book available for reference. The book includes in-depth discussion of lenses, including multifocal, progressive, absorptive, aspheric, atoric, safety, and high index technology. It also covers the technical features of lenses and provides a rationale for how and why an optician should select specific lenses.

Additional features within this book include…

  • A glossary of key terminology for easy reference
  • Proficiency tests at the end of each chapter
  • Full-color illustrations of procedures, concepts, and techniques
  • Updated information about dispensing equipment
  • Updated photos of fashionable frames and lenses

In short, this book is a must-have for anyone considering a career as an optician. The book is highly relevant regardless of the state where you intend to work or the type of employer that is providing you with a job. System for Ophthalmic Dispensing has been the standard text for optical dispensing education since its first publication and it is likely to remain the standard for the foreseeable future.

Contact Lens Fitting

The Contact Lens ManualContact Lens Manual – This guide to fitting contact lenses was written by a Andrew Gasson and Judith Morris. The book was designed to give both new and experienced opticians a comprehensive perspective of the contact lens fitting industry. Many opticians use this book to prepare for the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Certification Exams. Industry specific topics include common nomenclature, anatomy and physiology, optics, keratometry, and biomicroscopy. Contact Lens Fitting includes sections on rigid and soft daily wear lenses, contact lens manufacturing process, inspection, modification, lens delivery, follow-up, and extended wear lenses.

Opticians who plan to take both the ABO and NCLE certification exams are encouraged to add this book to their library of review materials. If there are two books that opticians use most to prepare for the certification process they would include System for Ophthalmic Dispensing and Contact Lens Manual. In fact, some opticians claim that study of the first half of System for Ophthalmic Dispensing is adequate preparation for the ABO Exam.

Practical Clinical Training

Optician Training Manual #1The Optician Training Manual – This book was written by David S. McCleary OD after he discovered that a concise and clinically relevant guide for optician training did not exist. David’s intent with this book is to give new and seasoned opticians the essential information that they need to start assisting customers. New opticians may have the detailed knowledge that is required to pass the ABO Certification Exam, but that does not mean that they are comfortable or confident with real situations where much of their technical knowledge cannot help them. This optician training manual was not designed to prepare opticians for the certification exams, but to teach opticians to perform well on the dispensary floor.

Clinical relevance is the primary purpose of this manual and it does not include the overwhelming mathematical formulas and theoretical concepts that are required for the certification examinations. The objective of this training system is to give managers and opticians the skills they need to analyze a pair of eyeglasses, select the perfect frame for the customer’s face, understand the appropriate lens options, research contact lens parameters, recognize symptoms of common eye diseases, and interact with customers to create the best experience possible.

Ophthalmic Assistant Training and Certification

The Ophthalmic AssitantThe Ophthalmic Assistant – This book was written to serve as a comprehensive tool for the clinical ophthalmic assistant. Several assistants utilize this textbook extensively whether or not they work in an optometry office, ophthalmology clinic, or optician owned establishment. Topics covered in this textbook include ocular disease, surgical procedures, medications, equipment, and office management. Over 1,000 illustrations are used as a visual guide for the identification of ophthalmic disorders and to clarify difficult concepts. The book also includes a quick-reference for record keeping, conversions, ocular emergencies, and pharmaceuticals. The comprehensive nature of this book makes it an excellent resource.

In addition to the clinical application of this book, many people choose to review its contents in preparation for certification or recertification. The full-color visual guide is helpful in identifying disorders and understanding difficult concepts. Important topics such as OCT, refractive cataract surgery, CPR, and new medications are addressed in great detail. The book also comes with full access to the content online for those who prefer easy search capability.

Ophthalmic Medical AssistingOphthalmic Medical Assisting – This has been written by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and is recommended by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) for those who plan to sit for the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) Exam. The book provides fully illustrated outlines of 44 procedures that are performed in the ophthalmic medical setting. Also included are chapters covering ocular motility, low vision, ethics, legal and regulatory issues, and community health eye care. As a way of helping reinforce important concepts, each chapter ends with a number of self-assessment questions and a handful of learning activities. The course serves as a prerequisite for the COA exam.

The certified ophthalmic assistant (COA) exam is an entry-level option for obtaining credentials as a certified professional in the ophthalmic specialty. COA certification is recognized by ophthalmic organizations and clinical providers. The completion of a training program followed by the passing of the certification exam demonstrates an individual’s competence and ability to perform a number of skilled clinical tasks. Many assistants are responsible for measuring acuity, administering medications, performing procedures, measuring intraocular pressure, recording pinhole acuity, testing pupils, and much more.

Certified Ophthalmic AssistantThe Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Exam Review Manual – Specifically designed to match the criteria for certified assistants as is adopted by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). The manual is often used by those who are preparing to take the COA exam. Included with the book are 1,400 review questions that address 19 exam headings such as taking medical histories, visual assessment, ethics, pharmacology, ophthalmic imaging, surgery, and much more. Study tips, hints, exam strategies, answers to questions, and detailed exam criteria are all included to help individuals prepare for success as they pursue formal credentials.

15 Responses

  1. H Faz
    H Faz February 28, 2016 at 10:00 am | | Reply

    I am a college student and I would like to become an optician. Which book would be the best for me to start with?

  2. Kim
    Kim January 23, 2016 at 3:16 am | | Reply

    I live in Louisiana. From what I read and to my understanding to take the optician certification exam we can self-study without a college training program and take the exam? The closest school that offers an optician program is three hours away. Once we become certified are we eligible for employment or do we have to be an apprentice? Will employers hire someone without schooling? Is there continuing education we must complete to keep our certification?

  3. Taline
    Taline December 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm | | Reply

    Hello, My question to you would be.. What is the correct name of the profession and what course do I need to sign up with if I am only interested in cutting and measuring eyeglass lenses? Is this considered a lab tech? Thank You

  4. John
    John September 30, 2015 at 12:45 am | | Reply

    Can I take the ABO and CLE after completing the 6000 apprentice required or do I need to take a class?

  5. David Downey-moya
    David Downey-moya February 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm | | Reply

    Can you do online training and certification for the Ophthalmic Technician/Assistant positions?

  6. Robert Dunn
    Robert Dunn October 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm | | Reply

    I failed the NCLE exam twice before I took the online Penn Foster optician course. I performed fairly well with their system.

  7. Jesse
    Jesse July 29, 2014 at 2:58 pm | | Reply


    I was wondering if you have or can provide a bridge to career guideline. A training program link would be great for career advancement. I am currently a certified ABO optician and Medical Assistant. I want to expand my career and I am currently aiming for the COA certification. However, it would be great to see a career path with illustrations and graphs. Thank you for your time.

  8. Evelyn Otero
    Evelyn Otero January 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm | | Reply

    Hello I am interested in following up on my career progression program. I was enrolled many years ago and now I am currently looking forward to getting my ABO Certification. My old employer was With Steve Ashinoff at Queens Long Island Medical. I am presently employed at Rochester Optical in Rochester, NY 14606.

    Thank you

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