Ophthalmic Dispensing (AAS)

Technician adjusting the fit of a man's glasses on his head

Nature of Work

Ophthalmic dispensers (opticians) perform a a broad range of tasks in vision care facilities. A major task performed by this professional is manufacturing lenses for prescription eye-glasses. They cut, grind, edge, and finish lenses according to specifications. Ophthalmic dispensers may also fit eyeglasses and contact lenses by filling written prescriptions by ophthalmologists or optometrists or by neutralizing existing eyewear to make duplicates of spectacle lenses. Often they help customers select the appropriate frames, lenses, and lens coatings. Dispensers also:

  • Fix, adjust and refit broken frames.
  • Instruct clients about adapting to, wearing, and caring for eyeglasses.
  • Keep records on customer prescriptions, work orders, and payments.
  • Some dispensers specialize in fitting contacts, artificial eyes or cosmetic shells that cover blemished eyes.

Employment for ophthalmic dispensers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005. An increase in demand for corrective lenses is expected due to growth in the population of middle-aged and older adults. Most new jobs will be in retail optical chains that manufacture prescription glasses on the premises and provide fast service.

Program Information

Mission Statement

The Ophthalmic Technology Program prepares graduates to be licensed opticians. The program includes instruction and laboratory training in all aspects of the field, including eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids and ophthalmic physician assisting skills. Students are trained in the latest technology employed in the field of opticianry.

Program Description

The Ophthalmic Dispensing program at CSN is a two-year program of study leading to an Associate of Applied Science Degree. The curriculum provides didactic and clinical or hands-on training. It offers the student the opportunity to become proficient in all phases of ophthalmic dispensing.

Program Goals

To meet the Mission Statement of The Program, The Program has developed the following goals:

  1. Graduates of The Program will pass the American Board of Opticianry and the National Contact Lens Examiners certification examinations.
  2. Graduates will pass the Nevada Board of Dispensing Opticians Licensing Examinations.
  3. Graduates of the program can gain employment as manufacturing opticians, dispensing opticians, entry-level management positions in vision care, as well as open their own independent vision care facility.
  4. To provide industry with professional, competent, laboratory and dispensing opticians.
  5. To provide students with a strong foundation in the optical industry in technical, retail, and business capabilities.
  6. To assist graduates and current students of the Program with job placement.
  7. To provide the student with the means to acquire an awareness of global, diversity, Equality and Inclusivity, and multi-cultural issues that produces responsible world citizens.
  8. To provide the most current industry specific technologies, methods, and procedures.
  9. To make use of content and innovative instructional strategies to enhance the students’ educational experience.
  10. To provide instruction to prepare the student to acquire ethical standards.
  11. To prepare the student with effective communication skills.
  12. Eliminate hazardous waste and reduce non-hazardous waste to the minimum levels economically and technically practical.
  13. To be in full compliance with all federal and state environmental regulations.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Perform all the daily tasks of a laboratory and dispensing optician in a competent manner.
  2. Analyze the prescriptive and lifestyle needs of a patient and make appropriate recommendations for optical devices.
  3. Create, inspect, and dispense any style of eyeglasses or contact lenses that meet the needs of a patient.
  4. Be qualified as a candidate for the ABO, NCLE exams and the Nevada Board of Dispensing Opticians Licensing requirements.
  5. Employ communication skills to address patient diversity and cultural understanding.
  6. Construct patient, family, and community education programs to promote and advance     ocular visual health on a local and global basis.

Ophthalmic Dispensing (AAS) Requirements

Note: Qualified applicants are expected to meet all admission criteria and matriculating students are expected to meet all progression criteria, as well as these Essential Functions of Ophthalmic Dispensing Students. Students with documented need for accommodation are to meet with the Disability Resources Center.

Admission Requirements

This is a Limited Entry Program. Therefore, an application for admission must be submitted by the application deadline and all prerequisite requirements must be completed by the completion deadline in order to be eligible for consideration. This material is reviewed using selection criteria set by the program. Applicants are notified of their standing by the Limited Entry office.


The Ophthalmic Dispensing program received accreditation from the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation in November of 2001.

Program Outcomes

2019/2020 Cohort - (Spring 2021 Graduates)

Program Completion Rate

  • 16 started and 15 completed for a completion rate of 94%

American Board of Opticianry Exam (ABO) Pass Rate

  • 13 took the exam and 12 passed for a pass rate of 92%

National Contact Lens Exam (NCLE) Pass Rate

  • 10 took the exam and 9 passed for a pass rate of 90%

Nevada State Board Pass Rate

  • 6 took the exam and 6 passed for a pass rate of 100%

Placement Rate

  • 15 of the 15 students completing the program are working in the optical field for a placement rate of 100%
Graduate Competencies

Commission on Opticianry Accreditation Graduate Competencies

The Opticianry program at CSN provides learners the opportunity to acquire the following graduate competencies established by its accrediting body, the Commission on opticianry Accreditation.

  1. Use effective oral and written communications
  2. Perform basic algebraic, trigonometry and geometry
  3. Identify the human eye structures, function and pathology
  4. Determine physiognomic (facial and eye) measurements
  5. Neutralize eyewear/vision aids
  6. Analyze ophthalmic prescriptions
  7. Assess lifestyle needs of the patient/customer/client.
  8. Select proper frames and lenses.
  9. Price and collect fees for vision aids and services.
  10. Prepare ophthalmic laboratory job orders.
  11. Dispense prescription eyewear/vision aids and instruct patient/customer/client in use and care.
  12. Maintain records.
  13. Provide follow up services, including eyewear/vision aids, repair, lenses, and frame replacement.
  14. Troubleshoot inquires and concerns.
  15. Apply applicable laws and regulations.
  16. Demonstrate proficiency in the operation and function of ophthalmic equipment.
  17. Utilize and maintain equipment.
  18. Demonstrate proficiency in finishing techniques.
Licensing Requirements

Licensing Requirements for Optician in Nevada

The Nevada Board of Dispensing Opticians is responsible for licensing and requlationg the practice of opticianry in Nevada. All individuals engaged in the practice of Opticianry must be licensed by the Nevada Board of Dispensing Opticians. Information concerning licensure for opticians in Nevada may be viewed at the Boards web site located at: http://nvbdo.nv.gov/

As an overview, individuals who wish to gain licensure in Nevada to practice as an optician must:

  1. Complete a program of study in Opticianry. CSN is the only program in the state of Nevada that provides this training.
  2. Complete an apprenticeship of 1-3 years. Graduates of CSNs program need only complete a one-year apprenticeship. Apprenticeship may be done while an individual is a student of the program.
  3. Complete the following exams:
    1. ABO Basic
    2. ABO Practical
    3. ABO Advanced
    4. NCLE Basic
    5. NCLE Practical
    6. NCLE Advanced
      Information on ABO and NCLE exams may be viewed at: https://www.abo-ncle.org/ under the tab Certifications.
    7. Nevada State Board exam on Opticianry Law in Nevada.

Student's First Checklist

New students planning to register for courses at CSN must follow the steps outlined on the Getting Started page. This page provides information on the registration process for new students seeking a Limited Entry Health Science Degree or Certificate.

Find out how to Transfer Credits to CSN from other colleges.

If you have any questions regarding this program, please contact one of our Health Programs Advisement Offices.

  • Charleston Campus: 702-651-5885, Building K Lobby
  • North Las Vegas Campus: 702-651-4415, Main Building Room N212
  • Henderson Campus: 702-651-3563, Building H Room 234
  • or email us at HealthPrograms@csn.edu.

Meet the Faculty

Mr. Scott Helkaa

Mr. Scott Helkaa is the Program Director for the Ophthalmic Technologies Program. Mr.  Helkaa holds a Master’s degree in Education, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing, and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Labor Relations. Mr. Helkaa is a licensed optician in the states of Nevada and Florida, eligible to fit eyewear and contact lenses in both states. Mr. Helkaa is also an ABO certified Master Optician and holds a NCLE Basic Certification. Mr. Helkaa has 40+ years of optical experience, the first 14 years of which was in retail optics covering positions of dispenser, lab tech, individual store management and multiunit management in both the private and public sectors.  Mr. Helkaa has been involved in formal opticianry education for the last 26 years. Mr. Helkaas’ subspecialties include dispensing, manufacturing, low vision, alternative / holistic / homeopathic ophthalmic health care, and optical business management.

Mr. Dale Roveri

Mr. Dale Roveri is a part time/adjunct Professor Emeritus for the program with over 45 years of experience as an optician. Mr. Roveri holds a license to practice Opticianry in the State of Nevada and holds both ABO and NCLE certifications and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing.  He has been a private practitioner in Nevada for over thirty years specializing in contact lens fitting. Mr. Roveri is responsible for teaching the following courses: Introduction to Contact Lens lecture, Contact Lens One lecture, Theory of Refractometry and A & P of the Eye.

Mr. Brett Roames

Mr. Brett Roames has 10 years of experience as an optician and is currently an Optical Store Manager for Walmart Vision Centers. He is ABO/NCLE certified and holds a Nevada license to practice Opticianry. Mr. Roames is an ABO Master Optician and has also served on the Nevada Board of Dispensing Opticians.  Mr. Roames has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Opticianry and a Bachelor of Science in Ophthalmic Dispensing from Nevada State College. Mr. Roames teaches the Optical Sales and Business Management course and ABO review/ NCLE review courses.

Ms. Beatrice Alvarado

Ms. Beatrice Alvarado has over 30 years of experience in the optical field. She is ABO/NCLE certified and holds a license to practice Opticianry in the state of Nevada. Ms. Alvarado teaches one of the manufacturing labs. Ms. Alvarado is currently the lab manager for a Walman Optical Wholesale Lab. She currently holds a Certificate of Completion in Ophthalmic Dispensing and Contact Lens Technician from CSN.

Mr. Andrew Phillips

Mr. Andrew Phillips has 8+ years of optical experience. Mr. Philips is ABO/NCLE certified and holds a license to practice Opticianry in the state of Nevada. Mr. Phillips teaches a manufacturing lab and dispensing lab course. Mr. Phillips is currently a general manager for a local LensCrafters outlet. He holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing from CSN. He intends to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Nevada State College.

Mr. Mark Bolos

Mr. Mark Bolos was hired Spring 2020. Mark has five years of experience as a Nevada Optician and is currently a full-time Optician for Eyeglass World. He is a graduate of CSN’s Optical Program and also holds a teaching degree from CSN. Mark is ABO Basic, ABO Advanced, and NCLE Basic certified. He is currently working on earning the NCLE Advanced Certification. Mr. Bolos teaches OPHT 201 Ophthalmic Dispensing I Lab, OPHT 223 Ophthalmic Dispensing II Lab and co-teaches OPHT 291 Clinical Applications III.

Mr. Mark Meyers

Mr. Mark Meyers has 12 years of experience as a Nevada Licensed Optician and has served on the Nevada State Board of Opticians. He is a graduate of CSN’s Opticianry program and is also a graduate of Nevada state College, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Allied Health Sciences with a concentration in Ophthalmic Technology. Mr. Meyers co-teaches OPHT 291 Clinical Applications III.

Ms. Gabriela Mendoza

Ms. Gabriela Mendoza has 6+ years of optical experience.  Ms. Mendoza is a graduate of CSN’s Ophthalmic Technology program. She is ABO Basic and Advanced Certified, NCLE Basic and Advanced certified, and is a Nevada Licensed Optician. Ms. Mendoza coteaches OPHT 291 Clinical Applications, Dispensing Labs and OPHT 260 Low Vision.  She has also taught OPHT 299 Certificate Review.