The University of Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science responds to Specsavers news release of June 17th. Read UWOVS letter to the editor and Specsavers response.


Dear Editor,

Optical Prism recently published a news release by Specsavers titled “Specsavers Champions Next Generation of Optometrists in Canada with ASCO Sponsorship.” As director of the University of Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science, I would like to share our stance on the statements made by Specsavers.

The news release states that Specsavers “is actively working with schools to address the shortage of optometrists by furthering initiatives aimed at increasing interest in the profession, capacity for education and ultimately, access to quality care for Canadians.” In fact, Specsavers has done nothing to work with the University of Waterloo.

Specsavers’ donation of less than $15,000 to the American Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) was done without the knowledge of either of the two Canadian schools of optometry, both of which are associate members of ASCO.

Specsavers states that the optometry student “intake capacity has remained the same since the early 2000s,” but this is false. In fact, our school increased its intake from 60 students to 90 through the 2000s.

We have plans to add a further six seats in first-year enrolment when the Waterloo Eye Institute, a major renovation and expansion of our clinic that will also add research and clinical education space, is completed in 2026. Specsavers is not involved in, nor does it have any influence over our plans for expansion.

The Waterloo Eye Institute has not received nor has it sought a single dollar in support from Specsavers, as we do not believe the company’s values are aligned with what we see as the way forward in supporting optometry as a strong and independent profession.

Specsavers’ news release is simply posturing by a new entrant to Canada. The implied support by and for the schools of optometry in Canada is inappropriate and unwelcome.

We hope you will publish our letter to correct to the baseless claims made by this multinational company.


Stanley Woo, OD, MS, MBA, FAAO
Director, University of Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science


In response to Optical Prism’s request for a comment, Specsavers provided the following letter:

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Last week, Specsavers announced a new sponsorship with the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). ASCO’s activities include applicant development and diversity, faculty and leadership development, advocacy, residency promotion, collaboration and data development, and communications. The announcement was factual and intended to provide transparency.

Specsavers holds the University of Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science (UWOVS) in high regard, as do the independent optometrists who choose to partner with us – many of whom are alumni of the University of Waterloo. The Company was surprised to see Dr. Woo’s response, which claims that the references to the School’s intake capacity since the early 2000s are inaccurate. These facts were referenced from an official UWOVS webpage titled “Reflections on the history of the School of Optometry and Vision Science”.

Specsavers is committed to supporting ASCO’s projects through monetary donations and other resources. We chose to sponsor ASCO because of the collaborative opportunities to support Canadian students studying in Canada as well as those studying in the United States with the intention of returning to Canada. It is true that UWOVS has not sought funding from us. Over the last few years, we have reached out to the University offering support in the form of sponsorship and other contributions towards UWOVS initiatives; this support has always been declined without any clear explanation. Like many of the eyecare and eyewear providers who offer substantial financial support to UWOVS, we are passionate about supporting the future of optometry in Canada. We are open to all the different avenues that exist to further the profession through education and real-world clinical experience.

We were surprised that Dr. Woo has cited a misalignment with our core values. We’re unapologetic about our core values, which are to improve awareness and accessibility of eyecare for Canadians. Specsavers’ mission is to make high quality eyecare and eyewear more accessible to Canadians.

We are doing this and investing significantly in raising awareness of the importance of having regular eye exams, benefitting Canadians and the whole industry. We will continue to partner with organizations to achieve shared goals that benefit the optometry profession and Canadians. We are strongly optimistic that these kinds of endeavors contribute to a more inclusive and collaborative environment in all aspects of optometry.

Bill Moir
Managing Director
Specsavers Canada

To view the original Specsaver Press Release, please click here