Looking to take the exciting first steps into running your own practice? 

Many opticians just like you are taking the leap from cog in a machine to optician owner; it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to build skills, both as an optician and as a business owner. 

However, there’s a lot to remember when starting your own practice! In this blog, we’ll run through the basic equipment you’ll need to get your practice off the ground, as well as share some of our top tips for success.

Remember – help is out there!

There’s no need for you to go through this process on your own. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little overwhelmed or out of your depth when setting up your first practice. 

We highly recommend talking to our specialists for free advice. We’ve helped hundreds of opticians to open and fully fit out their own practices. We can come out, free of charge, to help you measure up your space and choose the ideal equipment. 

When getting started, we highly recommend being conservative with your spending; don’t go crazy buying the latest tech you can’t afford – be modest, buy the essentials and upgrade over time. 

Don’t forget that much of the equipment you need can be affordably financed, allowing you to get what you need and pay it off over time. 


The equipment a new optician’s needs

While this is not an exhaustive list, it does include pretty much everything you need, and some optional space-saving tips should you need them!

Ophthalmic unit

You’ll be spending a lot of time at your ophthalmic unit, so it’s important that you invest in one that’s going to last you a long time and do everything you need it to!

We recommend finding a good MDT double table that can fit two instruments on it, or a combi unit to ensure you have enough space for the foreseeable!

Chart panel

Whether you invest in a computerised LCD chart panel or a cheaper chart projector is up to you. In most instances, we highly recommend opting for the former, despite the extra cost. 

Getting a good chart panel will set you in good stead for future growth, and is one less thing that needs replacing down the line. 

Slit lamp

No optician’s is complete without a slit lamp!

We recommend either the Keeler KSL-H Traditional Slit Lamp, or if you’re looking for something that is digital ready, go for the Keeler KSL-H Digital Ready Slit Lamp.


Your autorefractor is often the first piece of equipment that a patient will see, and it’s an essential piece of kit for any optician. 

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s fast, reliable and easy to use for your optical assistant. 


A great tonometer will be your best friend at work, and we highly recommend either the iCare IC100 Tonometer, or the more advanced iCare IC200.

These powerful handheld tonometers can fit in your pocket, are easy to use and require zero air puff. We’re confident that your patients will thank you for choosing a no air puff tonometer!  


For your keratometer, we recommend the Tomey RT-7000 Topo-Ref-Keratometer – easy to use, reliable and accurate – what more could you need?

Its colour touch screen makes it a pleasure to use day in, day out. 

Digital fundus camera

If you’re looking for effortless fundus imaging, look no further than the iCare DRSplus Fundus Imaging System.

The DRSplus is the latest innovation, using a confocal fundus imaging system to set a new standard of retinal imaging. Zero dilation necessary – perfect!


A high-speed, highly reliable OCT is a cornerstone of any optician’s. 

If you’re looking for 3D rendering that combines features of OCT, fundus camera, angiography and a PC all into one device, then you need the Huvitz HOCT-1.

This may not be the first piece of equipment that you opt for. Again, we highly recommend upgrading your kit as and when it’s affordable – don’t overcommit right at the start! We’ve seen many optician’s disappear over the years as a result of significant debt, so make sure to invest intelligently!

Trial set & trial frames

Again, your trial set/trial frames will be used every single day, so you need to know that you can trust your pairs to perform. 

To combine both convenience and function, we recommend the OCULUS Half Eye Trial Frame with Adjustable Bridge.

Handheld ophthalmoscope/retinoscope

A well-balanced ophthalmoscope is the optician’s best friend. 

Our recommendation is an ophthalmoscope/retinoscope set, such as the NEITZ LED Ophthalmoscope / Retinoscope Set (BXa-13-RX LED)

Two pieces of kit that are built to last, keeping you going now and into the future. 

Equipment for fittings

Here’s a list of easily forgotten pieces of equipment that every optician’s needs:

  • Bead bath heater
  • Burton lamp
  • Digital dispensing/measuring device
  • Facial gauge
  • Focimeter
  • Frame heater
  • Pliers
  • Clinell wipes (easily forgotten, but very important!)
  • Anaesthetic eye drops (if your equipment requires)


Limited space? Combine your kit!

If your premises has finite space, there are a few pieces of equipment that combine features into one.

Autorefractor keratometry

The Huvitz HRK-1 Auto Ref/Keratometer combines an autorefractor with a keratometer – two pieces of equipment in one!

This is perfect for the optician with a small building. 

4-in-1 Huvitz HTR-1A

The next level up is the Huvitz HTR-1A, a 4-in-1 system that includes:

  • Full auto refractor
  • Auto keratometer
  • Non-contact tonometry
  • Non-contact pachymeter

It’s the ultimate space-saver’s dream, perfect for outfitting a new practice with little space. 


Other top tips for a new optician’s

When getting started, it’s important that you follow these top tips (most of which are very easy to forget!

  • Make sure you get the size of your test room spot on – The distance between your patient and your chart needs to be considered. Make sure you’ve got enough space in your test room!
  • You need far more power sockets than you’d expect – Get an electrician in before any equipment and ensure you’ve got surplus plug sockets. Fires are caused by overloaded sockets; get more than you think you need installed. 
  • Don’t forget to install a sink – A sink is very easily forgotten, but is much easier to install before the rest of your equipment. 
  • Ensure adequate wheelchair access, with a test room downstairs. If your building is old, double check that doorways are properly sized (this is rarely an issue, but it is a consideration!).


Need help? Ask for help!

Starting your own optician’s is an incredibly rewarding experience for many entrepreneurial optometrists.

As mentioned, it’s essential that you invest intelligently. We see many optometrists overextending in their early years before going out of business.

That’s why we highly recommend getting in touch with our specialists at Mainline. We’re more than happy to visit your building to help measure up and advise on the best available equipment to meet your practice’s needs.

We’ve been doing this for decades; use our knowledge to get a leg up on the competition!

Talk to our specialists