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YOUR JOB, RATED

Optometrist + optician ranked high on desirable jobs list

ANTON KHRUPIN \ SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Enjoying your career in optical? You’re in good company.

Optometrist is No. 17 on CareerCast’s best-to-worst list of 220 jobs in 2018. Optician comes in at No. 56. The report provides a general snapshot of 220 U.S. jobs using the key criteria of income, growth outlook, work environment, and stress.

Rapidly advancing technology has changed the job landscape, prompting STEM-related professions to rise in ranking and others (such as meter reader and bookbinder) to fall off the radar completely. But optical jobs remain in the top half of the rankings.

What are the best? Genetic counselor is tops, followed by mathematician and occupational therapist. The worst? Taxi driver fills the bottom spot, preceded by logger and newspaper reporter.

—Susan Tarrant

Here’s how CareerCast analyzed the two optical professions:

OPTOMETRIST

Median Salary: $106,140

Work Environment: Good

Stress: Medium

Projected Growth: Very Good

OPTICIAN

Median Salary: $36,250

Work Environment: Very Good

Stress: Low

Projected Growth: Good

Missions Possible

A new world of high-tech contact lenses is on the horizon

CHOMBOSAN / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

for years, there’s been talk, trials, stops, and starts for super high-tech contact lenses. Some would help improve health. Others would connect wearers to the world in new and different ways.

It all began about five years ago, when Samsung, Sony, and Google began filing patents for contacts that record video, take pictures, and display all sorts of information. That was, to say the least, a large leap.

SAY HELLO TO ANDY

Johnson & Johnson Vision Care’s just-announced virtual assistant app definitely represents another big step. Launched on April 30, Andy is a virtual assistant chatbot powered by artificial intelligence. His purpose? To guide consumers, from contact lens neophytes to dedicated wearers, through their ACUVUE Brand journey. It also includes coaching to help newbies adopt healthy contact lens habits.

Where does he live? On ACUVUE’s Facebook Messenger app, which is downloadable for free from the App or Google Play store.

Andy, a virtual assistant app from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, is a chatbot to help customers with their contact lens experience.

IN THE WORKS

Andy isn’t the only thing that’s planning to shake up the contact lens category. Here are just a few examples of other high-tech contact lens projects in the works.

Photochromics. Due on the market in early 2019, The ACUVUE OASYS contact lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology are produced by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. They will automatically darken when exposed to bright light and return to a clear state in normal or dark circumstances. These soft contacts are designed for daily use for up to 14 days.

Ultrathin Lasers. Researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland are working on a biometric security system to allow access authentication and control. A device would perform a biometric iris scan, reading the wavelengths of light that are being emitted by a laser in an individual’s contact lenses.

Glucose-Monitoring Contacts. In January, researchers associated with the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea released findings about a bio-sensing contact lens created to detect glucose levels in diabetics. Though not yet tested in humans, the findings are said to be promising.

Glowing Contact Lenses. Another experimental project, this one being conducted by California Institute of Technology grad students, involves “glowing” contacts. The “phototherapeutic” lenses contain an embedded light source that shines imperceptible light onto the retina to help reduce its metabolic needs. These smart lenses would use light to trick the eye’s rods into reducing oxygen consumption so that more remains for the rest of the retina.

WHAT ELSE?

Contact lenses for migraines are on the market, from Orion Vision Group, while lenses allowing people to see in the dark (a new twist on the dark state, perhaps) are in the works at the University of Michigan.

A lot of the big money is, of course, working on augmented reality technology embedded in contact lenses.

Stay tuned, as more long-researched technologies come to market. One thing is certain. It’s going to be quite a ride. For the marketplace. And the consumer. —Stephanie K. De Long