National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators
2708-83 Garry St.
Winnipeg, MB R3C 4J9
(204)949-1950 or (866)949-1950
Licensed Opticians are 'vision architects'. They are specially trained to design, fit, and dispense eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and prosthetic ocular devices. The client brings to the Licensed Optician their requirements. That includes a record of the lens powers they require (commonly referred to as a prescription) plus any particular needs they have regarding function, fashion, fit and budget. From that information the Licensed Optician makes recommendations and assists the client in selecting lens products and frame styles then takes the measurements necessary to customize those lenses and frames for the individual.
Some registered Opticians also design and fit cosmetic shells and artificial eyes.
Recently in some provinces, government announced proposed changes to Opticians' Regulations that will allow registered Licensed Opticians who have received specialized training to conduct automated refractions (sight tests) and, based on the results, determine the power for corrective lenses for their client's eyeglasses. Although Opticians in some provinces have conducted automated refractions (sight tests) since 1996, they have done so under the nominal supervision of a physician. These changes, which will expand the scope of practice of some Opticians to perform these tests without the oversight of a physician, are not yet in effect.
All registrants of the provincial regulatory bodies must meet educational requirements and pass the registration examinations related to the dispensing of eyeglasses, and to the fitting of contact lenses. There are currently approximately 6,000 practicing Licensed Opticians in Canada.
Contact Lenses, Cosmetic Shells, and Artificial Eyes
Some registered opticians specialize in fitting contacts, artificial eyes, or cosmetic shells to cover blemished eyes. To design and fit these devices, Licensed Opticians measure the shape and size of the eye, select the type of contact lens material, and prepare work orders specifying the power of the lenses and lens size. In some cases, Licensed Opticians prepare moulds of an eye, which are used in the manufacture of some of these specialized devices. This work requires considerable skill, care, and patience. Licesned Opticians observe clients' eyes, corneas, lids, and contact lenses with special instruments and microscopes. During several visits, Licensed Opticians show clients how to insert, remove, and care for their contacts, their cosmetic shells or their artificial eyes.
Low Vision Aids
Many individuals who become visually impaired feel they must give up reading because for them a once-enjoyable activity has become fraught with difficulty. Licensed Opticians, however, can help provide low vision aids to make reading easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. Specially trained registered opticians will consult with visually impaired clients and design the best system for that individual, their life situation, and their specific visual limitation. Devices can range from simple hand-held magnifying lenses systems to high-tech computerized or electronic systems. The number of individuals with visual impairment is growing and many will find registered opticians can serve their needs with this specialized low vision aids.
Registered opticians prepare work orders that give ophthalmic laboratory technicians' information needed to prepare lenses for a frame. The work order is like a blueprint because it includes power of the lenses and information on their size, material, color, and style along with the individual specifications that the Licensed Optician has devised to customize the product. Some registered opticians prepare lenses themselves.
After the Licensed Optician's design for the product has been completed and the glasses are made, Licensed Opticians verify that the product has been completed to the specifications ordered. They are trained to adjust the eyeglasses, by hand or by using special tools to ensure the eyeglasses fit the client properly and comfortably. Some also fix, adjust, and refit broken frames. They instruct clients about adapting to, wearing, or caring for eyeglasses.