A Tale of Two Cities: Being an Optician in Memphis and Denver

I love being an optician in Memphis and especially at Eclectic Eye! Our exquisite inventory, the highly skilled staff, and most importantly, our fabulous patients all make every day a treasure. I started my optical career at Eclectic Eye in 2010. It feels like a beautiful whirlwind that my life has brought me back to my hometown and my original optical stomping grounds.

I started wearing glasses when I was six years old. I’ve worn contacts since I was 13. Yet, I never really thought about the behind the scenes of making glasses until I joined the Eclectic Eye team. Everything I learned over the first few months led me to develop a passion for an industry to which I hadn’t previously given much thought! I never imagined there was so much work to get an eyeglass prescription from a single sheet of paper to a patient’s face (and that’s only a sliver of the pie)! After one year with the company, adventure called, so my time with Eclectic Eye ended as I decided to venture out West to Wyoming.

At Home on the Range


While living in the midst of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen outside of a movie, I reflected on how optical work was probably a chapter of my life I had closed. It was fun and a fabulous learning experience, but was I really confident that my zeal for the eyewear industry was truly what I wanted to pursue long term? I just couldn’t be sure.

I could never stop looking at eyewear, comparing eyewear, wanting to educate people about proper eye care. It was something I could never shake. Plus, my cobalt blue theo Ventoux frames from Eclectic Eye always managed to spark a conversation from people of all genders and ages.

theo Ventoux

Have you ever bought a new car and suddenly you see that make and model on the road all around you? You swear it was never like this before. The same phenomenon happens when you become an optician. You immediately see everyone’s glasses in a sharper focus: poorly fit prescriptions or less than perfect adjustments all over the place. You desperately want to use your expertise to help make their glasses, and in turn their lives, better. After countless unsolicited conversations and new friends made around their interest in my eyewear, I knew this was a sign the optical world was pulling me back.

Being an Optician in The Mile High City

Peepers Optical
Peepers Optical

After 2 years of Wyoming living, I moved down to Denver, Colorado to formally reignite my passion and re-enter the optical arena. Upon arrival, I worked for a national chain but soon transitioned over to a boutique optical shop. Over 6 years in Denver, I dug deeper into developing my skill set, my confidence, and my love for this business. I began to truly grasp what it was like to be an optician. You have to immerse yourself in this field for years to really understand and appreciate all that is involved. It made perfect sense why the industry had lured me back: My innate drive to help others mixed perfectly with my need for stylistic expression. I’d never found that combination in any other industry.

As I honed my skill set, I couldn’t help but notice how different it was being a dispensing optician in Tennessee compared to Colorado. Yes, there are basic job responsibilities, but the patients’ needs vary, often due to the environment. Denver is a mild, invigorating climate with a thin atmosphere and very low humidity, pretty much year-round. Any Memphian hearing the phrase “low humidity” knows that they are very far from home.

Denver vs. Memphis

jonathan an optician in memphisSunglasses are a necessity, no matter where you reside. But especially in Denver when you are 5,100 to 5,700 feet above sea level (hence, the nickname The Mile High City). At that altitude, your eyes are much closer to the sun. Florida may officially be The Sunshine State, but Colorado gives it a run for its money with its year-round sun. The sun was blaring in Denver at all times, not just on a Memphian’s westward commute down Poplar Avenue in the afternoon.

Colorado also has 26 ski resorts, so there are thousands of skiers/snowboarders living in the state (not to mention the tourists). It made sense as to why I was dispensing so many polarized prescription and non-prescription sunglasses daily. Fashion sun lenses were rare, as patients were much more concerned about protecting their eyes and blocking the blinding reflection from snow during the winter months. Since it happened so frequently, everyone was well equipped to combat inclement weather, even down to their eyewear options.

Urban Eyes Vision Care
Urban Eyes Vision Care

Because Denver is surrounded by so much nature, I worked with many hikers, fishermen, and hunters. I learned a lot about how to properly tailor sun wear for my patients’ needs, as certain lens colors were a must for their various hobbies. Many of my patients required multiple pairs of sunglasses in order to achieve their best vision needs. Tennessee has a lot to offer an avid outdoorsmen, so I’ll be using this knowledge to continue to identify what type of eyewear wardrobe would benefit each customer.

Allergy season was also quite different from Memphis. We would get an influx of patients battling eye irritation at very different times of the year than I was accustomed to seeing. Dry eye is an issue in both states, but contact lens wearers require more education in Denver. The lack of humidity lessens daily wear time for many.

denverWhat I found most surprising is that despite Denver being such a large metropolis, there was more of a need for simpler eyewear styles. From my point of view, Memphians are definitely willing to step out of the box more when it comes to their eyewear. Memphis emits a more colorful and soulful aesthetic that encourages its citizens to be bold and expressive. I think the deep roots in music and art have bled into all aspects of life as a Memphian, and eyewear is no exception.

Eclectic Eye Team

These differences aside, my duties as an optician to educate and guide my patients to get their best vision is, and will always be, the same. I am happy to have dispensed in a different environment. It gives me the knowledge to share with patients who may be moving or vacationing in different climates. I have learned in life (and in this field especially) that there is never too much information!

I’m very happy to share my 8+ years of optical experience with our fabulous Mid-South clientele and to be back in my vibrant (and stylish) hometown! If you are an avid outdoorsman or just need a stylish new pair of sunglasses, give us a call and make an appointment with an Eyewear Architect. We love making our customers’ lives more functional through the right pair of spectacles. We know that the right eyewear can make a world of difference.