Friday, November 15, 2013

Some Insight on my Profession/ Bonus Q&A

Greetings my spectacled spookies!

Often when I meet new people, the topic of "So what exactly is it you do for a living?" pops up. Whenever I give the answer, be it worded as "Optician," "Optometric Technologist," or "Optical Technician," I'm typically received with a blank stare, a half smile, and "So....what is it you do for a living?"

Every clinic assigns different duties to their optical staff. At my place of employment, the opticians are trained to be Jacks of (nearly) all trades. We can assist with pre-testing-- think "One or Two?" and "Read the bottom line for me"-- and we run the testing machines, particularly the ones that test patients' side vision and read their eye pressures. In addition, my particular clinic is a learning institution. We train students in their final year of optometry school. My department guides these 'almost doctors,' in helping their patients decide on the best lens options for their needs and help expand on their knowledge of optics and eyewear. We also file insurances and give patients estimates on how much their glasses will be using those insurance benefits.

However, our main expertise is glasses, glasses, glasses! The purest optical work we do consists of buying frames that we think our clientele will like, determining what lenses and what prescriptions will work in what frames, verifying prescriptions, figuring why a patient can't see if they aren't adapting to their new script, adjusting glasses, and repairing frames. My favorite among these are repairs!! :D

My brother's actual glasses after a very scary car accident.

Why? For one, I get a great sense of fulfillment when helping people, especially when it comes to eyesight. I myself am pretty nearsighted, and I know how tough it can be to go without glasses for any period of time. As horrible as it sounds, it's also good for my pride. Patients get this look of wonder, as though I'm some great wizard or engineer who did the impossible- I must be magic! I've actually had patients ask to look at my hands because they couldn't believe I was able to fix their glasses. Of course, I think the main reason I love repairs is that I love a challenge. I love the balance of working with my hands and planning with my brain. I look at each realignment as a geometry problem. Both sides must be symmetrical (in standard alignment anyway- people are often asymmetrical and the glasses must reflect that in order to fit), all angles should match, both left and right. And I love the glasses that are completely mangled and in need of new temples, nose pads, nylon cords, ect. The ones I have to basically rebuild I lovingly refer to as "Frankenstein glasses" because I use so many random spare parts.

Uhh....not quite what I meant.
My favorite type of repair is actually one I used to be afraid of. Why? Because it consists of a searing, red hot staple being very close to my hands. And sparks. And lots of smoke.

^The above shows the correct tool, however the use of it is entirely different. Maybe I'll have to make a hot staple video of my own......

It's called the hot staple or hot fingers technique. Basically, we use an instrument that holds and heats regular office staples to red hot temperatures. While holding this device with one hand, the optician must steady the frame parts in his/her other hand, making everything aligned while the scorching hot staple melts through the plastic, mending the pieces together, then acting as a brace once it's cooled. Many times it's a two person job. One person holds the two broken pieces together while the other person drives in the staple. I'm quite proud of myself, however, for having mastered the solo technique. This bad boy is my current pride and joy. These glasses were broken beyond repair--or so I thought!  The metal hinge had basically ripped away from the plastic completely. But alas! Where there is intact plastic, there is hope. I had to use four staples (usually only two are needed) to properly steady it, but by Joe, it worked!

Now it does look pretty fierce, the staple ends sticking out and whatnot, but it's not very safe. After I took the photos, I then snipped the ends and used a metal file to smooth everything over.

So there's a little insight on what I do. I may elaborate more in the future about how we check glasses prescriptions or how we use ultrasonic frequencies to clean glasses in the future.

I've gotten a few questions asked recently that I'd like to address because I'm often asked the same by my patients.

Fist question comes from my very dear friend Catie. Catie asks:

"What exactly is that green stuff that collects around my nose pads? Is it mold? Am I cleaning it wrong?"

This is a common concern, and I must say, you only have to worry about this if you're, well, human. This is caused by the natural oils, sweat, and debris on your skin mixing with the metal of your glasses and forming a chemical reaction of sorts. The result is a lovely green color. We in the optical profession call this "face cheese." Dandy, eh? Luckily, it's not toxic, just icky; there's bacteria in it, but it won't kill you. You can reduce the appearance and severity of this grime by regularly rinsing your glasses under hot water a few times a week, taking care to clean the bottom of your eye wire and along the nose pads. You can also take these in to your local optician for a deeper cleaning behind the nose pads and in all the nooks and crannies.

Teresa from Florida recently asked me via FaceBook:

"I just got new glasses with thick side pieces. When I got them home, I noticed they rock back and forth. Are they defective? Should I go back and ask for a refund??"

Again, this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. I'm assuming the glasses you picked out were spring-hinged, meaning they have a bit of give when you pull on the temple; this gives a more comfortable fit. The inside of the barrel that connects the temple to the hinge attached to the frame front is rounded, which can cause the temple to wobble left to right. This won't affect the fit of your glasses. All temples with spring hinges do this to some degree, but the wobbliness is more noticeable in the thick plastic temples. Now, if the rocking motion is also up and down and the temple just feels loose to you, you can always take it back to get it tightened. Only in that circumstance is there an issue, which can be easily solved by a few adjustments to the metal.

I hope these tips helped. Stay tuned for the next blog post, and as always, check out the Gothic Optician FaceBook page for bits of knowledge, photos, humor, and contests that don't make it to the blog. And as always, you're always more than welcomed to inbox me any optical questions or suggestions to make the blog more appealing.

Sea, the Gothic Optician, A.B.O.C.


  1. Great article! I've been looking for some opticians in Edmonton that I can take my mother in law to, and this gave me some great insight of what to look for when choosing one. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I'm glad to have been some help! I wish you the best of luck in finding the right optician for your mother-in-law. :)

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