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HomeminewsEnhancing Optometry by Upskilling Dispensers

Enhancing Optometry by Upskilling Dispensers

The distinct practice benefits of enhancing optometry by upskilling optical dispensers has been emphasised at a dedicated full day dispensing conference. The roadshow style event for Specsavers’ optical dispensers visited NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Perth and New Zealand with presentations delivered by high profile speakers from Australia and the UK.

The conference, organised by Stephen O’Leary, Specsavers’ Director of Product and Dispensing Advancement, attracted over 500 optical dispensers.


Optical dispenser Greg Lee outlined the evolution, technical specifications and advantages of progressive lenses. He told attendees the more patient data they put into the system, the larger and clearer the field of view would be as the lens would be optimised for every particular parameter. “Different lens designs suit different people, so you need to ask patients about the environment they work in, their seating position, the distance everything is away from them,” he said.


Timothy Haigh, Senior Educator at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, analysed current methods for taking measurements required to accurately dispense spectacles; ie. the Viktorin method; Pupillometers and digital measuring systems. He said digital measuring systems in general, achieve a better, more precise result for patients as a greater number of data points are collected, and measurements are taken with the frame in the ‘as worn’ position. However, maintaining skills to use all three systems was important because not all patients could be accurately measured in this way. Additionally, he said it can be possible to obtain different results from the different methods, and the ‘as worn’ position is key to achieving accuracy.

Different lens designs suit different people, so you need to ask patients about the environment they work in, their seating position, the distance everything is away from them


James Gibbins from the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing spoke about fitting frames, stressing the need to dissuade patients from choosing a frame before they had their refraction in case it was not suited to the final lens.

Mr. Gibbins said when recommending frames, keep in mind details including the patient’s facial physiology, the depth of the frame and thickness of lens required to achieve the prescription. It is also essential to be aware of whether the frame material can be manipulated to achieve the final optimum fit.


Alicia Thompson, Director of Professional Examinations at the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, spoke about the journey of a child in dispensing, describing their typical stages of facial growth for girls and boys. Using images she explained the movement of a child’s crest, which travels from below the line of the lower lid to above as they move from babyhood into their teens. This dramatically influences where the spectacle bridge sits and therefore the fit. Ms. Thompson gave practical advice for recommending frame design features, possible adjustments and adaptations for fitting children.


Professor Kathryn Rose from University of Technology Sydney spoke about current and potential methods to control myopia progression, including orthokeratology, novel contact lens designs and atropine. Professor Rose said of all treatments available to slow progression of myopia, low dose atropine appears to be most promising, and further studies needed to be completed in novel contact lens designs. She said it was important to take steps to control myopia quickly because a delay in onset can reduce the likelihood of progression to high myopia and therefore visual impairment.


Charles Hornor, Director of Communications at Specsavers, said Specsavers was developing a structured CPD program for optical dispensers that would be introduced in the coming months. “Within this deregulated yet increasingly technical sector, formal continued education is essential to ensure patients receive the highest level of eye care while optical dispensers further develop skills and knowledge.”


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