Optical Terminology:  It’s all in the Name.

As I stated in an earlier post, according to the official ABO website, about 34% of the NOCE questions are concerned with Opthalmic Optics, and the first item on their list is: TERMINOLOGY. Or, specifically, names of things. 

The best rule of thumb here is that if something has a name or title, you should learn it.  You might even want to memorize it.  These are the sorts of things that show up in glossaries of terms, or are underlined, italicized, or printed in bold face in your text book, or study manual!  These are words you can type into Wikipedia in order to get definitions, as well as find further terms by checking the linked words that lead to other pages. 

Just about everything in optics has a name.  And you have to know them!  

  • You need to know the parts of the eye.  Words like “zonules of Zinn”, “vascular tunic”, “Fovea centralis”, and ora serrata” should be terms you are familiar with.  You should know the importance of the eye structures and how they relate to each other.  You also need to understand the terms “anterior” and “posterior” as applied to the eyeball.  WHERE each structure exists in relation to each other is important.
  • The names of the different refractive errors should also be familiar to you.  Not only do you need to be aware of the various kinds of astigmatism, but you might want to learn the different types of aniseikonia as well.
  • Know what an “axis” is, and a “meridian”, how “nominal power” differs from “back vertex power”, and what “compensated power” is.
  • Your tools have names as well.  You might have a question asking: What is a chappel? But most likely you will have a question which asks you: If you are using a chappel, what are you likely doing? And, What would you use a colmascope for?
  • Lenses have names too.  Multifocal lenses especially.  Are you aware that a “straight top”, a “flat top” and a “D” seg are all the same thing? What about a “Franklin” and an “executive”?  No one sells a “Kryptok” anymore, but you need to learn its name and what it is.  The same goes for the Ultex.
  • When it comes to frames, names mean a lot.  What exactly is a “rimless” or a “semi-rimless”?  What in the world is a bal-grip mounting?  Have you seen one?  It’s still in the text book!
  • Adjusting frames is easy, right? (well, it should be easy for you by now!) So what is the “splay angle”?  What is meant by “four point touch”and how do you do it?  What is “vertical alignment” as opposed to “horizontal alignment”? (It’s not as straightforward as you might think!)  If something is “skewed” it may be different from being “x’d.”  That’s a distinction you should be aware of.
  • Do you know what a “degression” is?  Can you calculate one?  What is the name of the product that uses it?

The point is, there are a lot of optical terms that will likely be on your ABO exam and you will have to know them. The GOOD thing is, this is probably the easiest information for you to study! All of the terms you need to know are well defined in the text books and study manuals available to you.  When you take notes (and you should take notes!) make a point of highlighting these terms.

All of the optical terms you might be tested on are included in the extensive question database of our practice tests.at passyouropticalboards.com.  Taking practice tests is one of the best ways to prepare for your upcoming ABO exam.  We’d love to see you ACE your Boards, not just pass them!