Fine-tuning the process

Optical assistant Gemma Mooney's take on progressive lenses

Gemma Mooney

I joined the team of Eglinton Eyecare in July 2016 as a dispensing assistant. Coming from a healthcare background, I was attracted to optics with the opportunity to learn a lot and be able to provide a high level of care within a close-knit team to each individual patient.

I’ve been dispensing for around three years with lots of hands-on training and have attended various courses. I assist patients in selecting the frames and lenses suited to their personality and lifestyle.

It’s a fantastic reward when a patient finds their perfect glasses, and both sees and feels great in them. With so many lens options available, initially it seemed overwhelming. How would I ever be able to narrow down the options to suit each patient?

Over the first six to 12 months in the role, I soon gained the knowledge and confidence to be able to understand the unique features and benefits of different lenses and how to communicate to patients so that they could make the best decision.

Taking the measurements for personalised varifocals was daunting initially. I found that practising with team members helped to fine-tune the process and ensure that my measurements were accurate.

Gemma’s 10 tips for OAs who are learning how to dispense progressive lenses

  1. Find out what a typical day looks like for your patients and use this to inform your advice. Finding out what they spend most of their day doing will give you a real insight into what they need from their glasses
  2. For patients getting varifocals for the first time, take the time to explain what they are likely to experience differently to their current lenses as well as pointing out potential limitations
  3. Remind patients that varifocals may not solve all of their visual needs and that additional pairs of glasses may be needed for specific tasks
  4. Use jargon-free language when talking to patients and relate things to real life
  5. A three-way handover from the optometrist is the perfect time to reinforce the benefits of varifocals and to narrow down lens choices
  6. Make the most of your lens suppliers for training and dispensing resources
  7. Having a methodical approach for taking measurements will make you feel more confident and ensure that you haven’t missed anything out
  8. Keep refreshing your knowledge – if you get the opportunity to do more training then take it
  9. Keep yourself up-to-date with advances in lens designs as they may prove to be the perfect solution for one of your patients
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.