It has never been more exciting to be an optician. Opticianry is one of the few professions that combines science with fashion. Take, for example, a marketing executive in her late thirties with a mild distance prescription, but increasing difficulties seeing at near distances. The long hours at her desk are becoming more and more challenging; she experiences eye strain, headaches, and that in return leaves her frustrated and irritable because she is not effective at her job. She does not really like wearing glasses because "they make me look like my Grandmother."

The ability to function optimally in her job is extremely important to her. We have the answers she needs. We have just the lens to solve this emerging presbyope's struggle. First-time wearer progressives are available from several manufacturers. We can also overcome the "grandma" concern by selecting a disappearing rimless frame, or enhancing the "young executive" look with a stylish zyl frame. Either way, we will enrich this young lady's life – a new look and skyrocketing performance at work because of improved vision. Can it get much better than that?

This is only one example out of many miracles we perform every day. And for the optician, this is one part of our challenging job. We created the perfect pair of eyeglasses and now we need to communicate this vision to our lab. Here it can get tricky, because what is so important and clear in our mind may not be comprehensible to our partner in the lab. It is the optician's responsibility to communicate to the lab what the final product needs to look like.
We expect our patients to have difficulties understanding and communicating their requirements, but how do we do it?

I interviewed lab managers, customer service managers at laboratories, and opticians responsible for the ordering and final inspection of eyeglasses, to understand their concerns about this communication process. How refreshing to find out they are all after the same kind of experience:
  • Deal with a knowledgeable partner
  • Be treated with respect
  • Be informed
  • Be able to trust the partner

While each group had their gripes and legitimate complaints, they all pulled together for the common goal – a great pair of eyeglasses for a happy patient.

For us opticians, this means to communicate clearly – apply the 7 C's of communication.
  1. Clear
  2. Concise
  3. Concrete
  4. Correct
  5. Coherent
  6. Complete
  7. Courteous
It also means to apply our technical knowledge. Remember the Boxing System?


No matter how technically advanced the lenses and the manufacturing equipment might be, accurate measurements still matter. They determine the outcome of a pair of eyeglasses.

And let's not forget, size matters.

This young gentleman wears +2.00 OU and has a PD 56. This 66-18 frame with an ED 73 will not be a good choice. Think about the lens size it would require.

Minimum Blank Size
The formula for determining the smallest possible lens blank which will work for any given frame and PD combination is as follows:
Minimum Blank Size (MBS) =
(Geometric Center Distance GCD or frame PD – Pupil Distance PD) + (Effective Diameter ED)
(MBS) = (frame PD – patient PD) + ED

For our young gentleman this would mean
MBS = (84 – 56) + 73
MBS = 101mm and let's not forget the extra 1 – 2 mm for the bevel.

While this example is extreme to the extent of being funny, the theory remains valid.

We opticians possess the knowledge of optics, we understand the increasing number of lenses offered, we know fashion in eyeglass frames, and we apply great people skills when dealing with our patients. How, then, do we communicate effectively with our most valuable partner, the lab that is responsible for the quality of eyeglasses we dispense?

If we could consult with Dr. Stephen Covey, the author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," he may recommend:
1. Be Proactive
  • Know your optics
  • Have information ready for the lab
  • Give plenty of time
2. Begin with the end in mind
  • Have a clear vision of the final product
  • Create excitement with your patient
  • Communicate clearly with your lab
3. Put First Things First
  • Consider your lab your most valuable partner
  • Ask questions
4. hink Win – Win
  • Happy optician
  • Happy lab
  • Happy patient
  • Effective productivity always increases the bottom line
5. Seek First to Understand, then be Understood
  • What does your patient need
  • What is the most effective way to communicate with your lab
  • How do you need this relationship to work
6. Synergize
To put it simply, synergy means "two heads are better than one." Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems.
  • Utilize the resources available to you
  • Consider new options
  • How might we?
7. Sharpen the Saw
Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Opticianry is a multifaceted profession and the quality of your work shows in each pair of eyeglasses you dispense. Therefore, your relationship with your lab is imperative. Our job satisfaction comes with the smile on a patient's face when they try on their new eyeglasses and like what they see and how they see. And, honestly, there is no feeling better than bringing happiness to another person's life.

It enriches your life, it enriches the patient's life, and it enriches the business and our profession.

Maggie Sayers is a professional development coach and a Master Optician. Her optical career started over 30 years ago in a family business in Germany. Since she came to Florida in 1987, she has worked diligently to promote high professional standards in opticianry. Her mission is to help opticians achieve their personal success through serving the public as vision experts.

As a professional development coach Maggie provides education workshops that focus on leadership and personal engagement. Her time management course has inspired many participants to think outside the box, apply newly acquired knowledge and achieve extraordinary results.

Maggie's enthusiasm for opticianry is inspiring and her keen business sense paired with excellent communication skills make her a highly sought after motivational speaker.