Optics, from the Latin òptica and the Greek optike (téchnē) ‘(art), is the art of manufacturing instruments that assist vision; it is that part of physics that deals with the phenomena of light.


Optics deals with what are termed optical phenomena. It aims to both explain them and also to obtain experimental results that enable the field to grow as a phenomenological discipline and one of modelling. There are three branches of optics: geometrical optics, physical optics, and quantum optics. Physical optics is the branch of optics that studies the phenomena of interference, diffraction, the polarization of light and all those phenomena for which the simplifying hypotheses of geometric optics are not valid, but for which it is necessary to resort to the description of the wave nature of light as electromagnetic radiation. For this reason, optics is also considered a branch of electromagnetism, which describes the behavior and properties of light and its interaction with matter (photometry).

Optics studies the behavior of radiation at visible, infrared and ultraviolet frequencies; however, similar phenomena are encountered in the frequencies of X-rays, microwaves, radio waves (or radiofrequencies) and other ranges of electromagnetic radiation.

However, optics constitutes a sector somewhat separated from the physics communities; it has its own identity. The more strictly scientific aspects of the sector are often placed under the headings “Optical Science” or “Optical Physics”, which however have marked interdisciplinary characteristics with optical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, psychology, and medicine. The field of optometry is an auxiliary part of the healthcare professions.

The optometrist possesses skills in optics, optometry, contact lenses and ophthalmology, is familiar with the technical characteristics of optical instruments and knows how to use the equipment needed to measure visual ability and correct eyesight defects, as well as the machinery used for cutting and grinding of lenses. In addition, the optometrist is also able to use information technology tools to aid their work, and store and manage data on each patient’s visual characteristics.


At the Switzerland Eye Research Institute, the optometrist assists the ophthalmologist in carrying out ophthalmology consultations, measuring the precise visual capacity of a patient who needs new glasses, or in particular, when there is an intervention to correct one or more visual defects. The optometrist also assists the eye surgeon in the visual adjustment phase and during the monitoring of multiple ocular functions in the immediate postoperative period.

The work of the optometrist in SERI Lugano is multidisciplinary. In addition to collaborating with the ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, the optometrist works closely with the orthoptist and the vision psychologist. This can involve the admission and assessing of the paediatric patient, the organization and management of group meetings for adults with the same characteristics (for example, visually-impaired patients), and in conducting visual accommodation exercises which may be very useful in accelerating the process of visual adaptation after surgery or ophthalmic treatments.


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