By Samantha Ramcharran, A.S.

It has been eight months since I have become an apprentice optician. Every working day is an opportunity to learn different techniques and apply my knowledge. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since working in this field, it’s that people need to feel comfortable with who is helping them. Although every optician encounters those patients who refuse almost every suggestion made to them about lens treatments, materials, frame choice, etc., it is still important to try to relate to them and fulfill their needs. Being approachable and friendly will work, but patients gravitate more towards confidence. If there is a way to relate to them on a personal level, they value my recommendations instead of viewing me as another person who is solely seeking sales. Furthermore, I establish a comfort-zone and consequently they willingly share the appropriate information to enable me to design the perfect pair of glasses.

Choosing eyeglasses isn’t as transparent as picking out a new watch. It is my job to ensure that I ask the right questions and evaluate their everyday needs. This can be challenging every so often if the patient is uncomfortable with questions or sharing their personal life with a stranger. I’ve learned that addressing my own struggles usually puts patients at ease. Myopia runs in my family and I have been wearing glasses since the second grade. I’ve worn polycarbonate and high index lenses for as long as I can remember before I began wearing contact lenses. Therefore, I have had first-hand experience with simple myopia and compound myopia for over fifteen years. My prescription has gone up, bringing me to about a -6.00D with approximately -0.50D of astigmatism for each eye. My nearsightedness used to be a disadvantage for my everyday life until I began working in an optical. I became my own motivation when I realized what I could offer to patients exactly like myself. Allowing yourself to be a little vulnerable by sharing personal experience can be monumental in forming lasting relationships. Addressing universal difficulties such as breaking or losing glasses and not being able to see would be a great segue as well. The frustration someone might face when their lenses aren’t correct or the smile that comes along with crisp vision are all well within my line of expertise, as I’ve experienced them myself.

Allowing myself to be accommodating and responsive to patient needs improves the dynamic of being an optician. The ability to contribute to improving a person’s life is where confidence should stem from. Even though I am physically incapable of perceiving other types of ammetropia, describing the necessity for clear sight can be tremendously profound to patients. Life revolves around vision and it’s my driving passion to make sure patients are aware of how to enhance their valuable eyesight. When a patient is satisfied with their eyeglasses and sees empathy and confidence in the optician, they will come back with the trust that was built from the very beginning.

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