Dispensing 101

Tips for a Flawless Optical Dispense

Eye glasses in a store

This article is the second in our series from Alexander Bennett, a second-year student at Western University College of Optometry who worked as an optician before beginning optometry school.

I’ve been lucky to see and work, in a variety of optometric practices. These range from large practices with every type of doctor practicing under one roof (think Kaiser Permanente) to a small operation with only two employees: the optometrist and an optician/front desk/insurance specialist.

The small practices tend to be some of the more fun office environments, but do require a lot of work from each practitioner. I’ve seen the optometrist have to troubleshoot patient glasses, or do the adjustments and dispensing themselves.

In order to make these pick-ups smooth and efficient, without taking too much time away from the optometrist, here are some tips for streamlining the dispensing process for the entire staff.

Quality Control

The quality control step is the most important step in any successful dispense. Not every wholesale lab takes the time to do a thorough inspection of every job – the lab is likely shipping out thousands of orders every day, so the time taken with each will be limited. Make sure to check the obvious, such as the accuracy of the prescription, but also the details that are often overlooked: do the anti-reflective coatings match? Are the Transitions the correct shade? Does the edge treatment look correct? A good quality control will prevent any issues during dispense and ensure that your patient gets exactly what was ordered.


A quick note about documentation – I mentioned some of this in a previous article, but it is worth reiterating. All pertinent patient notes should be notated on the order form.

Is the patient filling a single vision reader instead of a progressive? Are there two spectacles to pick up, and the patient should be notified when both have arrived to save a trip to the office? Is the correct frame size notated in case of warranty issues?

Trust me, it’s very embarrassing to order a replacement frame for a patient, only to find out that the wrong size was notated. This will cause a very unhappy patient when they find out they have to make another return.

Patient education

Going back to the point made in the documentation about order types: making a note about a patient’s first progressive lens, or bifocal lens, can be a very big help when dispensing to a patient. When I see this note, I am immediately cued that I need to spend a few extra minutes describing the adjustment to wearing the new lenses: head posture, where to look to see clearly, limitations of the lenses in the periphery, and to be extra careful with stairs.

Final Notes

Taking the time to describe all of these factors will help patient expectations of the lenses – hopefully described at the time that the order is placed – but important to reiterate since it has likely been a week or more since the patient was given all of this information.


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