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Dispensing Optician

Dispensing opticians are often known as DOs. Their specialist skills include giving patients professional advice on which type of spectacle frames and lenses are suitable for the patient’s lifestyle like for their work or leisure. They can give advice on tailored spectacle lenses and frames for driving, UV protection, prescription sunglasses, specific lenses for VDU use, sports and safety eyewear.

Only DOs or optometrists are qualified to fit children or anyone registered as sight impaired (low vision) with their spectacle frames and lenses. If a child or someone with low vision needs spectacles, then these must be dispensed by or carried out under supervision of, dispensing opticians or optometrists registered with the GOC.

All registered dispensing opticians have undergone a minimum of three years academic and practical training to qualify. Only dispensing opticians registered with the GOC can practise in the UK, or use the protected title dispensing optician.

What skills do dispensing opticians have?

Dispensing opticians (DOs) bring to their roles high-quality communication and problem-solving skills. A DO can help you if you have more complex needs for your eyewear. They can also help if you have a problem with your glasses.

Dispensing opticians (DOs) can share their knowledge and skills with colleagues, improving the performance of the practice team overall and ensuring that you get receive high-quality care and advice when you visit the opticians.

Dispensing opticians (DOs) are well-placed to give you clinical advice on common eye conditions and deliver monitoring services.

Dispensing opticians (DOs) are a great first point of contact for parents/carers wishing to bring children or vulnerable adults for an eye examination.

How to become a dispensing optician

To qualify to become a dispensing optician, you'll need to do a course approved by the General Optical Council. There are 3 different types of courses you could choose to do.

You could do a:

  • full time diploma which takes 2 years followed by working under supervision for a year

  • day release training course combined with working which takes 3 years

  • distance learning course which includes on the job training and takes 3 years

You'll also need to pass the professional qualifying examinations from the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO).

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, including a science