On Tuesday January 27, 2015 the College of Opticians of Ontario (COO) approved in principal, changes to our Standards Of Practice. These changes affect the dispensing of glasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and safety glasses. Record keeping and infection control are also addressed*. The draft Standards have now been sent out for stakeholder feedback. You should have received an email from the COO asking for your comments. The COO will also be holding focus groups. The OOA will be seeking member input and also a review by our legal/consulting team. I strongly encourage you to take part in this process both through your association and directly to the COO. Be sure to answer the trending questions in this newsletter so we can start a dialogue with you, our members, in order for us all to fully understand and comment on these proposed changes. Through our association we have a voice that will be heard.
As I mentioned above we will be seeking input for the OOA official response. The following is a few of my initial thoughts after my first read through. I also want to mention that all of the proposed standards are important and will have our attention. At this time I’m personally commenting on the dispensing of eyeglasses component.
Dispensing includes the preparation, adaptation, and delivery of eyeglasses, contact lenses and subnormal vision devices.
Historically the COO Standards Of Practice for dispensing glasses have been interpreted in such a way that an optician had to be directly involved (in person) during the assessing of the patient’s prescription and visual requirements, verifying frame fit, taking measurements, and be present at the time of dispensing to the patient. Some of these actions can be delegated but the optician must be on the premises.
The Proposed Standards include guidelines that appear to give opticians the ability to use the Internet for the selling of eyeglasses. These Standards very much reflect the new guidelines adopted in June 2014 by the College of Optometrists of Ontario.
The proposal discusses the need for opticians to review, advise, take measurements, and confirm the glasses are appropriate and fit them. Where, when, and how are not mentioned in the draft except for the final fitting and delivery of the glasses, which must be completed in a face-to-face, in-person setting.
Prior to delivery, a physical, in person meeting between the optician and patient is necessary to fit and adapt the completed eyeglasses, and ensure that they are appropriate to the patient’s needs. This should not be performed virtually.
If you look at what is required at the time of order you have to ask yourself if the actions need to be done in person or can they be done in an accurate safe way virtually. How well the patient does in a self-serve eyeglass ordering model will certainly be exposed at time of the dispensing by the optician. If the client did a poor job ordering, and the optician, (wherever he/she is), didn’t catch the errors at the time of order, what are the negatives? Patient waits for the redo and the optician eats up some more materials and time? How will these proposed standards affect what takes place in the traditional way we dispense. Note that the proposed standards don’t specifically point to an Internet model. Many perspectives are needed to assess these proposed standards.
The COO draft Standards appear to, more than ever before, leave the dispensing of eyewear up to the optician’s professional judgment to ensure positive patient outcomes.
Is dispensing eyewear from your own website or a third party Internet company something you would consider incorporating into your practice? Is your employer going to incorporate this type of dispensing model? You will be doing the dispensing.
The Internet is here to stay and the regulatory bodies need to develop Standards that help to level the playing field and allow eye care professionals, for those who so choose, to use the Internet as a tool within a regulated system. The Trending Questions in this month’s Focus Newsletter asks your opinion on this change in the choices we have in the way we provide eye care to our patients. Please give us your opinion by answering these questions that will help your association to understand where you stand on this new vehicle, which could drive new patients into your dispensary. And be sure to also provide your input to the COO’s request for stakeholder feedback by clicking here.
Ontario Opticians Association
Standard 1: Competence – The optician shall conduct him or herself so that patients receive the optician’s most effective performance.
Standard 2: Professional Conduct – The optician shall meet the ethical and legal requirements of the profession.
Standard 3: Dispensing of Appropriate Optical Devices – The optician shall dispense optical devices appropriate to the patient.
Standard 4: Safety and Infection Control in the Practice Environment – The optician must take reasonable and appropriate measures to minimize the risk of contamination and subsequent transmission of infectious agents within their professional practices. The practice site should be equipped and maintained, and that procedures are in place, to assure health