Refraction for Opticians by Opticians [Maggie Sayers]

The beginning of every year, usually late January or early February, the OAA (Opticians Association of America) brings all of the State Associations together for a Leadership conference. Las Vegas was the meeting place this year from Feb. 5 – 7.

It was a fantastic meeting. There was a distinct air of change, moving forward, collaboration, positive energy. Most reports and presentations were based on the question “How might we….” And the ones that did not stood out sorely. I left the meeting feeling energized knowing that opticianry is on the move. We are catching up, we shall live up to our glorious past.

Refraction for Opticians by Opticians was one of the programs introduced at the Leadership conference. Like so many other developments, this was a group effort. The Opticianry Summit Foundation declared Refraction to be one of their initiatives. A group of opticians came together as a Mastermind Group to explore the importance of refraction in the past, at present and in the future. I have been the facilitator for this group and we have been working diligently for the past two years first on research then on strategic planning on how refraction will impact opticianry in the future. We believe that in a world where refractions can be performed with a phone app or in a kiosk at the mall it is vital for opticians to analyze and understand refractions. We opticians will be the final frontier between an objective refraction generated by a technical device and the custom made eyeglasses that will determine how people see the world. It will take a new skill set to surmount these demands in our industry.

Refraction for Opticians by Opticians is a 20hr education project that is the first step on the way to master the art of refraction. It consists of 10 modules, two education hours each. The first module explores why refraction is vital to our profession and outlines the skill set necessary to advance. Module 2 – 5 go into the theory, module 6 – 9 are hands-on refraction workshops, and module 10 consists of the final exam and a debrief. While the material covered has been presented many times before, the way the Mastermind Group put it together is quite different. Motivational quotes and success stories form the bookends of each module; five of the ten modules are available as webinars; videos and instructional demonstrations keep the education lively and interesting; a Virtual Phoropter is part of the program used for demonstration and available for student practice.

The program was very well received by the opticians present at the OAA Leadership conference. And while it is but a mere beginning of the education needed to move our profession forward, it is that very important first step. Refraction for Opticians by Opticians is ready to roll. We have entered the implementation phase and it will take many more Masterminds to make this program a success.

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