Ophthalmic Dispensing
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Program Description

Ophthalmic dispensers (opticians) are licensed professionals who dispense eyeglasses and/or contact lenses to the public from prescriptions written by eye doctors.

With the increase in the nation's population and the aging of the baby boomer generation, the demand for ophthalmic dispensing services and a trained corps of ophthalmic professionals has risen. This demand exists in private businesses, health maintenance organizations, nationwide chain store operations, professional eye care offices and in other areas including ophthalmic sales, supply and laboratories.

The Ophthalmic Dispensing Program's goals are to provide the necessary theoretical and practical training to enable students to successfully complete the American Board of Opticianry Examination, National Contact Lens Examination and New York State licensing exams in Ophthalmic Dispensing and Contact Lenses.

Classroom lecture and laboratory training involves the careful selection, measuring and fitting of eyewear and lenses unique to each person. Laboratory skills also include the actual fabrication of eyewear. In the case of contact lenses, the use of sophisticated instruments and evaluation techniques are used to design and dispense contact lenses to each individual.

Students will be trained in the use of computers to maintain patient histories and prescription requirements. To complement their classroom and laboratory training, students will participate in an externship at participating doctor's offices and dispensing facilities. Second year students gain purposeful clinical experience through supervised participation in the community eye clinic which offers eye examinations and prescription eyeglasses to those in need in the community.

Upon graduation of the program students participate in credentialing exams administered by the American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners and state licensure exams through the Office of Professions, New York State Education Department.


COA Contact Information:

Commission on Opticianry Accreditation
PO Box 592
Canton, NY 13617
(703) 468-0566 voice; (888) 306-9036 fax


The following scholarships are awarded to the ophthalmic dispensing student population annually:

  • NYSSO Student Scholarship, $500; sponsored by the New York State Society of Opticians;
  • NFOS College Bowl Accommodations Award; sponsored by National Federation of Opticianry Schools;
  • Lenscrafters Scholarships ($500), sponsored by Lenscrafters, Inc.;
  • Richard Terry Memorial Scholarship ($300), sponsored by friends of Dick Terry;
  • Optical Society of Western NY Travel Award, sponsored by the Optical Society of WNY;
  • Eyewear by ROI Scholarship ($500), sponsored by Eyewear by ROI  and
  • Hoya Optical Student Grant ($500), sponsored by Hoya Optical. 

Students are encouraged to participate in additional academic scholarship award contests provided on a local and national basis. Scholarships are available to matriculated students only.

Degree: Associate in Applied Science
Hegis: 5212
Curriculum Code: 0549
Campus Location: North
Health Sciences Division

Available at:

Pre-Admission Recommendations:
2 Years Math

Recommended H.S. Courses And/Or Experiences:
Math II
General Science

Career Opportunities/Further Education:
Large and Small Independent Offices
Health Maintenance Organizations
Wholesale Sales

Advisement Contact Information

North Campus
Location: Room B100A
Phone: (716) 851-1570


Did You Know?

A significant number of courses have been renumbered as part of the State University of New York's policies which promote student mobility, through transfer of academic credit, to other SUNY institutions. All courses should be numbered at the 100-200 levels. The Listing Reference contains both the old and new numbers which should aid students in their choice of courses.


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