Opticians are regulated health professionals who supply, prepare and dispense optical appliances by interpreting prescriptions that have been prepared by ophthalmologists and optometrists. They then adjust and adapt glasses, contact lenses or special-needs vision devices to ensure their fit.
Opticians work in optical retail outlets or other establishments with optical dispensing departments. They may also be self-employed.
CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of opticians in Canada.
- Data from 2011 to 2013 is available on request by completing this data inquiry form or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For more information on CIHI’s health workforce data, visit the HWDB metadata page.
Reports and analyses
- Canada’s Health Care Providers: Provincial Profiles, 2013
- Canada’s Health Care Providers — 1997 to 2011: A Reference Guide
In Canada, opticians are regulated in all 10 provinces. They are not regulated in the territories (as of 2015).
To practise as an optician in Canada, an individual must obtain a licence from one of the optician regulatory authorities in Canada. The requirements to obtain a licence are similar across the country but can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another.
- Hold a diploma in optical sciences eyeglasses from an accredited program
- Pass the National Optical Sciences Examinations (combined eyeglass and contact lens exams), in cooperation with the provincial regulatory agencies (applicable in most provinces)
- Register with a provincial regulatory body as required
Scope of practice
The scope of practice for opticians is articulated in provincial regulatory legislation, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.
Opticians are highly trained professionals whose main functions includei
- Evaluating the record of the lens powers that clients require (prescription) in addition to any particular needs they have regarding function, fashion, fit and budget
- Making recommendations to and assisting clients in selecting lens products and frame styles
- Taking the necessary measurements to customize lenses and frames for clients
- Performing administrative duties, such as keeping records of clients’ lens powers and work orders, and tracking inventory and sales
Some opticians also design and fit cosmetic shells and artificial eyes.
i. National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators. Scope of practice. Accessed March 31, 2016.