Jobs in the Optical Industry - Smart Vision Labs

Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry

Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry

The effects of optical industry disruptors aren’t only seen in new startups and creative business models. They change not only how businesses operate but also how the employees work. The vision disruptors’ shared goals of affordable eye care and industry transparency need people to bring lofty ideas down to earth where they can be useful.

The changes disruptors made to the eyecare industry affect the day-to-day operations of businesses down to their smallest unit: the employee. Disruptors work with optical engineers to design a prototype, medical science liaisons to ensure the product is viable, and marketers to get the word out to potential consumers.

Not only do these positions have a new person to work with, the disruptor, they also have to adapt to the resulting changes. Eyecare industry disruptors rely heavily on technology, software, and communication to introduce new ways of doing things and the employees, scientists, and engineers that work alongside them must do the same. Engineers work with advanced 3D modeling software to design new equipment, staff opticians walk people through vision tests over teleconferencing, and licensed ophthalmologists read and report on results for a patient they never saw in person. Because disruptors have made technology and software important aspects of the eye care industry, the people who currently work in this field need to navigate these changes and incorporate them into their job description.

There are two ways optical industry professionals work along with disruptors. The first is the link between a disruptor and the technical aspects like healthcare, science, and engineering. Although it is behind-the-scenes work, it is essential to insure the disruptor’s idea is both practical and commercially viable. The other seeks to create communication between the disruptor and the consumer they are looking to reach. Telling consumers that they can afford eye care, where to get it, and why this new way of doing things is better for them are all part of fulfilling transparency goals.

Medical Science Liaison 

In order to create effective and practical solutions, disruptors’ ideas and goals need to align with the needs of the healthcare industry and the technological limits of engineering. A medical science liaison manages the healthcare part.

The primary focus of their job is to enable effective communication between industry innovators and their fellow scientists and doctors. They are the link between the people with the ideas and the people who carry them out. The medical science liaison uses the knowledge gained from getting their doctorate in a specific field (such as ophthalmology) to work with both idealistic goals and rigid industry conventions.

Their purpose is to provide balanced, informative insight on how to improve a product using the knowledge of their selected medical field. Because they are familiar with the healthcare aspect, they are able to explain the kind of effect the disruptor’s product will have.

A Medical Liaison is one of many important post disruptive jobs in the Optical Industry - Smart Vision Labs
Our former liaison Dr. Huy Tran

Optical Engineer/Optical Scientist

Optical engineers are responsible for every phase of creation, from the idea to the final implementation. Their skills need to cross several disciplines, as this position is a mix of both engineering and physics.

In the initial stage, the optical engineer needs to envision a device that will fulfill a need in the industry. This may include a new way to test for eye disorders or perhaps it involves improving an aspect of laser surgery. However, to complete each project successfully, there are several mandatory questions to answer.

What is practical? The optical engineer needs to mentally inventory the technology and materials that are currently available to create the new device. This assessment is the first step to determine the viability of the project.

How does it work? If the possibility for creation exists, then it needs to be designed. This takes the idea and brings it into the physical world through the use of measurements, materials, and the laws of physics. The optical engineer creates the framework that holds the device and the mechanical components that will make it work.

Does it work? Testing and analyzing the completed device may or may not be the final stage. Modifications or even a complete reevaluation of the project may be needed. In many cases, the optical engineer is involved in the assembly process which provides even greater control and input in the development of the device. A manufacturing engineer could also take over this aspect but there needs to be communication with the optical engineer at all stages.

The many hats an optical engineer wears during the creation-to-implementation process make this a very interesting position. Although this career is primarily a desk job, there will be many opportunities to work with others and to travel to testing facilities or laboratories. During the design or testing phase, longer work hours may be needed, yet there is a definite feeling of satisfaction achieved from creating devices that will improve the optical industry.

There is a great demand for optical engineers and the field is filled with growth, thanks to eyecare industry disruptors. As the current business model for eye care embraces ever-changing technological advances, the optical engineer will be at the forefront creating devices that lead the way into a better future.

Chief Optical Scientist Kaccie Li - One of many post disruptive jobs in the Optical Industry - Smart Vision Labs
Chief Optical Scientist Kaccie Li

Staff Opticians and Licensed Ophthalmologists

As technology is created and improved and the optical industry evolves, optical staff technicians keep up with these changes. The on-site technicians have always collected the patient’s basic information and conducted a traditional-style vision test. Staff opticians still do these things but in new ways that reflect the influence brought about by industry disruptors.

They might have started out giving a vision test using large machines in brick-and-mortar office buildings, but now they may help a person use a small device for their smartphone. The handshake when they enter the exam room might be replaced by a wave through a monitor before starting the live video feed. The vision test might not even take place in an exam room, but in the person’s home using a portable autorefractor or even their computer’s webcam.

Conducting vision tests using telecommunications affects more than just the technicians. The licensed ophthalmologists who interpret the results don’t have to be physically near the patient either. The method of operations for the eyecare industry was to have the person come into the doctor’s office for their vision test and prescription. But disruptors discovered it is simpler and more resource-efficient to send test results to the licensed ophthalmologist. This especially benefits people who need vision care but are unable to get to an office in person, such as those who have health problems or live in rural areas. In addition to allowing ophthalmologists to see and treat patients more efficiently, they can also provide care to people who would otherwise forgo vision correction altogether.

Customer Service, Public Relations and Social Media 

Disrupting the eyecare industry isn’t just about dealing with high-tech innovations. Because this field is really about providing healthcare, there is a human element to this business that cannot be ignored. Once the optical engineers design the product and the staff technicians assist with vision exams, there is still a customer who needs to purchase a product. That is the reason the individual and the disruptor are interacting in the first place.

The responsibilities of the customer service representative have evolved as well. Before disruptors began creating a foothold in the industry, the customer service role was pretty straightforward. Sit at a desk waiting for a customer to walk in, help them select a pair of glasses, go over the invoice and get their payment information, and send them home to wait for a phone call saying their eyewear is ready. But, for a company that operates entirely online, how is that useful?

It isn’t. Which is how disruptors changed the definition of customer service. In the post-disruption industry, customers need service of a different kind, namely, more educational and information-based to lead them through the new changes.

A vital component which separates these new, innovative companies with the optical industry giants they are disrupting is communication. This element connects companies and consumers in a more influential way than just saying “I bought their product.” Communication allows disruptors to alert eyecare consumers to the behind-the-scenes practices of the industry which serve only to benefit the large corporations, creating a transparency that wasn’t seen in this business before. The consumer can also interact with a company directly in a way that wasn’t even an option before.

The overwhelming popularity of social media combines with disruptors’ needs and desires to communicate with their consumers. The previously semi-related fields of PR manager and marketer have become closely intertwined. Social media managers and social marketers are born from this union.

Running a social media account brings brand awareness, cultivates consumer loyalty through accessibility and positive interactions, and provides an outlet for people to feel heard by the company. Small startups can connect with the public on a more personal level which creates rapport between business and customer.

These positions even incorporate elements of customer service. Assuring unsatisfied customers their complaints were heard and relaying that information back to the business shows consumers, both the one you’re interacting with and potential new ones, that this business is legitimately interested in helping and making changes based on feedback. Fresh startups don’t have a long business history or traditions to cling to which makes them responsive to consumer praise or criticism in a way traditional eyecare industry businesses can’t (or don’t care to) be.

TM is in charge of ensuring Smart Vison Labs customers are always happy - Just one of many jobs in the Optical Industry
TM is in charge of ensuring Smart Vison Labs customers are always happy

Necessary Job Skills

Eyecare industry disruptors bring much-needed change that results in increased convenience and decreased costs to consumers. Yet, the disruption of the former business model also changes the parameters of jobs in this field.

At the forefront is software. Industry disruptors have used the modern advances in technology to change the “default setting” on eye care by upgrading to more efficient and accurate ways of performing everything from vision exams to LASIK surgery. While these improvements are beneficial, those in the field must be ready to adapt to them.

In many ways, the software generated and used by the industry disruptors are at the core of change. Careers in this field now center on the ability to learn new systems. The disruptors also open the door for innovative thinkers who can develop software to address the current goals of this industry. The entire disruption process carries a message that change is here to stay. Careers in eye care will focus on this message through adoption, inventions, and implementation.

Another vital skill for the job seeker in the post-disruption eyecare industry is the ability to communicate. This requirement now extends beyond the simple act of talking to patients in an office setting. Careers in this industry now require people to be able to explain in understandable terms how the technology works for their benefit.

This means that patients need to be introduced to new concepts in a clear way. For instance, Smart Vision Lab’s 5-Minute Vision Exam offers convenience and cost savings. Yet, patients will not fully appreciate the benefit to themselves until it’s explained. Another example is buying eyewear online. Whenever consumers are offered a different way of doing things, there is always a learning process. That’s why communicators are a vital force in the eyecare industry disruption.

Just like the disruptors have a vision for change, so will those working in this industry. Certain skills will be magnified to better enable eye care to attain the goals that will best serve the people they seek to reach.

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