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About opticians

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.

Data availability

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.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, opticians are regulated in all 10 provinces. They are not regulated in the territories (as of 2015).

Practice criteria

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.

Common requirements

  • 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.