Opticians are health professionals with in-depth knowledge of glasses, contact lenses, specialty eyewear, and sight testing. They graduate from a training program that is equal to two years full time. Their program includes course work, clinical labs, and a practicum. After completing school they must pass a national optical science exam before applying for registration with the College of Opticians of BC. They are trained in modern approaches related to eyeglasses, contacts lenses, sight testing, other technologies, eyeglass fashion, customer service and business.
In B.C. they can call themselves “optician”, “dispensing optician”, “registered optician”, “licensed optician”, or “contact lens fitter” only if they are registered with the College of Opticians of BC.
What does an optician do?
Using information in a prescription/assessment record, contact lens records or other records, an optician can provide eyeglasses, contact lenses, or other devices needed for seeing. If there is no change in the lens, an optician can duplicate an already made corrective eyeglass lens. They can conduct a sight test to check your vision. They use a variety of instruments to apply their knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the eye. An optician can also provide information about eye care and the proper use of things to help your vision be better.
How do opticians keep their skills up to date?
An optician must renew their registration with the College of Opticians of BC each year. Every three years they must complete 21 to 36 continuing education credits.
What happens when I first visit an optician?
Your optician will ask you questions about your health, lifestyle, and how you will use your eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you are a healthy adult and want to check for any changes to your vision, an optician certified in sight testing can conduct a sight test.
If you want eyeglasses, an optician will make recommendations on frames, lenses, and lens coating depending on your needs. They will take accurate measurements for your lenses and they will either complete the work themselves or send the order to a lab. They will make sure your glasses fit properly.
If you want contact lenses, an optician will assess the corneal health of your eyes. The optician will take cornea, iris, and pupil measurements to make sure that the contact lenses will fit your eyes. Trial lenses may require several follow-up visits to find the right contact lenses that rest properly on your eyes and provide the best vision for you. An optician can give you your contact lens record once the proper contact lens for you is found. They will let you know if there is anything you need to be aware of regarding contact lens care.
How can I find an optician?
You do not need a referral to visit an optician. You can find an optician in your local telephone book or on the college website www.cobc.ca or www.licensedoptician.ca Opticians work independently, in large chain stores, and in laboratories.
How do I pay for an optician?
The services of an optician are not covered by MSP but may be covered by extended private insurance plans.
What if I have concerns about the care I received from an optician?
As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your optician. If you think that has not happened, contact the assistant registrar:
College of Opticians of BC
The College does not oversee concerns about business practices, financial matters, or poor customer service. These should be brought to the attention of the manager of the optical store or the Better Business Bureau.
Where can I find more information about opticians?