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 - ABDO College

Level 3 Optical Support


The WCSM qualification in optical support is designed for staff working within optics who do not have a registerable qualification with the General Optical Council, whether you work in retail optics, manufacturing, sales or technical support. There are three mandatory units plus optional units to then choose from. You can choose optional units which are most applicable to your own role. Each optional unit is detailed and includes a recommendation below as to which role it would best suit. The Level 3 Optical Support qualification is the same level as an ‘A’ Level.

The course is aimed at anyone working within optics. It is designed for those in optics who have had some experience or who have left school already with GCSE Maths, English and Science. It is equivalent to an ‘A’ Level. It is ideal for those who wish to progress and further their knowledge and career. It is ideal for those considering studying for SMC (Tech) or SMC (OA) [due to be launched in September 2017] but are unsure if they have the required ability.

The programme

This is a distance learning programme which is suitable for all optical support staff. The precise format, time and cost will depend on the units you choose and if there is a practical element or not.

The learning outcomes

All WCSM courses have been designed to help you progress on the optical career pathway. If you have already studied Level 2 Optical Support (or one of the Level 2 awards) you could be exempt from some of the Level 3 Units. You will also find that if you are considering a Level 4 qualification, you will be exempt from some units by studying Level 3 Optical Support. The size of the qualification will depend on the number of units chosen. If you complete the three mandatory units plus one other (at least 21 credits) you will achieve a certificate. 37 credits or more will give you a diploma.

Next steps

For an information pack with details of the next intake, fees, deadline and an application form for this or any of our courses please contact the courses team at ABDO College by telephone, fax, email, post or via the ABDO College website.

Mandatory units

The aim of this unit is to help the learner to understand the legal implications including health and safety within an optical practice and how they relate to the role of an optical assistant. There will be elements of employment law, health & safety and GOC requirements.

The aim of this unit is for learners to know how to effectively manage relationships with colleagues including communication and supervisory skills, and how to develop other people’s performance in optical practice. The learner will have the knowledge to communicate with patients/customers with impaired vision, to improve service, deal with conflict and improve selling and supervisory skills. This unit is strongly recommended for anyone with a managerial or supervisory role within the optical profession.

The aim of this unit is for the learner to know and understand the principles and factors underlining the choice of particular lenses used in spectacles and the learner to know and understand the benefits of the various alternatives available, including low vision appliances. The learner will learn about the principles, designs and fitting of frames, including facial measurements, and the importance of protective and other specialist eyewear. This unit is strongly recommended for anyone who is dispensing in optical practice.

Optional units

Learners must achieve a minimum of one of these optional units

The aim of this unit is for the learner to be able to interpret and understand the relevance of common optical prescriptions. The learner will learn about the principles of optical screening equipment and processes for tonometry, auto refraction and visual fields and how to obtain the best data or measurements. The learner will understand the actions required when confronted with an optical emergency and the limits of authority in practice.

The aim of this unit is for the learner to understand the key types, principles, designs and wearing modalities of contact lenses and the learner to understand the more complex designs of toric and multifocal lenses and the legal framework that regulates contact lenses and solutions. The learner will learn about how to identify and manage those customers who have not complied with contact lens care regimes. This unit is strongly recommended for anyone who is involved in supporting contact lens practice, especially those that perform insertion and removal appointments under the supervision of a contact lens practitioner.

The aim of this unit is for the learner to be able to understand and apply the mathematical principles used within optics. It will include calculations that require the use of geometrical mathematical principles.

The aim of this unit is for the learner to understand the structure of the eye and the principles upon which sight-correcting lenses are based. It will include the functions of the gross anatomical features of the eye and how refractive error is corrected. The underpinning theory of optics will be included in this unit.

Will I receive any exemptions if I have been awarded Level 2?
Possibly, depending on which units you achieved. Please refer to the individual units for details of exemption.