American Optical Corp. announced last week that, in an effort to reduce overhead and increase profitability, it will move its Frederick, Md., manufacturing facility to its headquarters in Southbridge, Mass.

Warmer-Lambert Co. Inc., American Optical's parent firm, has decided to sell the subsidiary, which manufactures vision care and safety products. American Optical said the company hopes to stablize business and boost profitability by consolidating its operations under one roof. An American Optical lens-manufacturing plant in Brettleboro, Vt., will also be relocated to Southbridge.

American Optical had profits of $11 million in 1980.

The Frederick facility, which was established in 1956, has 206 employes and an annual payroll of $2.5 million. It is involved in the manufacture of plastic frames for eye-glasses.

According to an American Optical spokesman, five or fewer of the employes will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Massachusetts. The company will offer early retirement to some employes and assist others in finding work in other industries. American Optical plans to be out of Frederick by March 1982.

Frederick County Commissioner Galen Clagget said the news of American Optical's move was a "total surprise," but said the economic impact on the city and county will be "minimal."

"We're lucky here. We've managed to diversify our industries and we don't rely on one industry," he said.