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Ophthalmic Sciences

img ophthalmicThe Department of Ophthalmic Sciences is the home to studies pertaining to Dispensing Opticians. Currently the undergraduate programme comprises the National Diploma: Optical Dispensing. In the near future the Department is also likely to offer further professional degrees in the field of eye care. The qualification is recognised by the Health Professions Council of South Africa for the purposes of registration as a Dispensing Optician and the course is internationally recognised in such countries as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It is the only qualification of its kind in South Africa.

The department has a strong focus on public health and have provided eye care services to disadvantaged communities.The department also offers a diabetic laser eye service in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Health.

What is ophthalmic sciences?

Working as a dispensing optician is a varied and multi-faceted career, which offers a balance between working with people and using modern scientific technology to the benefit of the patient. A dispensing optician analyses a written prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist and also considers the lifestyle and working environment of the patient. By taking accurate facial measurements, using sophisticated equipment, applying knowledge of ophthalmic lens materials and interpreting the prescription, the dispensing optician can order, manufacture and process ophthalmic lenses and produce devices to correct defects of vision. The work also entails screening before visual examinations as well as adjustments, and repairs to spectacles and contact lens modifications. The good dispensing optician develops and maintains an enduring relationship with the patient, which makes the career a rewarding and fulfilling one.

Career prospects

A dispensing optician may sets up his or her own practice or in partnership or could undertake full time employment in a private. The optician can work in both the private and public health sector or else work in the wholesale industry in optical laboratories. The registered dispensing optician has a number of exciting opportunities available to them including employment with:

  • Wholesale laboratories
  • Optical industry representatives
  • Private optometric practice
  • Public sector hospitals
  • Private ophthalmology practice
  • Dedicated private sector eye clinics
  • Educational institutions

What kind of person will enjoy this field of study?

The successful dispensing optician should enjoy working with their hands as well as with people. A strong interest in science and technology is essential as well as a desire to help people. The job requires great accuracy and attention to detail and so the potential applicant should possess these qualities. A prospective student with interest in the medical sciences and human biology would find this qualification most interesting and rewarding.