Seattle Central College: Changing the Game for Opticianry Education [Lori Fender]

For 35 years, the School of Opticianry at Seattle Central College has provided opticianry training to its students, as the only school on the West Coast recognized by the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation. This fall, Seattle Central will reconstruct its opticianry education to make it more accessible to those already working in the industry.

For the first time, the School of Opticianry will offer online hybrid courses to allow students to pursue an Associate's Degree in Opticianry while maintaining active employment. All lecture courses will be available online, and lab course sections will be extended to reduce the number of days students are required to be on campus. This hybrid structure makes the program more accessible for those who are unable to attend school full-time and allows students from areas outside of Seattle to enroll in the program.

“I think the best aspect is the fact that students will only have to be on campus a few times a quarter. They can pursue their degree AND their career at the same time!” says instructor Christiaan van Vliet.

Students can complete their Associate of Applied Science degree in Opticianry in just two years at Seattle Central. This degree is a pathway to a solid career in the eyecare profession. Many of the courses are transferable, meaning students may use their coursework at Seattle Central to pursue higher degrees in healthcare.

In their coursework, students learn to fill prescriptions, select appropriate frame styles, fabricate lenses, maintain records, fit contact lenses, submit insurance claims and generally be an optical professional all-star!

Students get a unique opportunity to work directly with customers in a professional setting at Campus Optical, an on-campus retail optical shop operated by the School of Opticianry that offers eye exams, contact lens fitting and eyewear to students, faculty and the public.

“I loved the Opticianry program at Seattle Central. The teachers love their profession and teach from their hearts. The curriculum is so comprehensive and hands on. I left there really feeling confident in my abilities and ready for any job” says student Nicholas Kyriakides.

Jill Wood, 2014 graduate says, “The instructors are top notch, making the subject interesting and exciting, while providing the much needed hands-on lab experience. It was in an invaluable experience with people that truly care about me finding my way and placement in this industry.”

Beyond their daily coursework, students are encouraged to get involved with local and international volunteer eye care campaigns such as iCARE, Sight Life, Remote Area Medical, Lions Club and Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (V.O.S.H.). These campaigns help those who may not have access to needed eye care and correction throughout the world.

“I was encouraged to get involved in volunteer work. I have provided volunteer eye care every year since graduating in 2008. The program continues to inspire students to give back while in school and after.” says Amy Sabella-Malone, current instructor and graduate.

To learn more about the School of Opticianry please contact:

Lynn Coffman, Program Director:
Christiaan van Vliet, Instructor:
Amy Sabella-Malone, Instructor:
Lori Fender, Instructor:

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