Alberta Opticians are bound by a code of ethics, but what does this mean for you?
First and foremost, you can expect your optician to follow the Code of Ethics for Alberta Opticians. Specifically, this relates to you in the following ways:
Honest and Impartial…
An optician must be honest and impartial when serving a client. Your optician is bound by law to treat you as a patient before a patron. This means that your health and well-being come first, and selling you a product comes second. All recommendations made for your glasses should be in the interest of comfort and utility, giving you a better visual experience.
An optician’s job is to use their knowledge and skills to improve your visual health and well-being. Opticians need to provide quality ophthalmic services. Sometimes this means asking numerous questions about your day to day activities to ensure that the product they recommend is the best option for you. The glasses or contact lenses you receive from your optician should match the prescription written by your optometrist. Your optician may follow up with you to make sure that the product you have received is still working for you.
If you optician retires, goes on leave, or is otherwise unavailable for an extended period of time, it is their responsibility to transfer your files to another optician, so that your service is not interrupted in their absence.
Opticians are responsible for protecting the privacy of your records. You can request a copy of your files, but they are not allowed to give you the original file. This is a legal requirement. With your consent, an optician may release your records to another health professional within your circle of care.
It is illegal to practice opticianry without a license. Make sure your optician is registered…
“Optician” is a protected title in Alberta, which means that it is illegal to practice as an optician unless you are registered. This is because opticianry is a health profession; it is dangerous for an untrained individual to perform the duties of an optician. Make sure that you are receiving treatment from a Registered Optician (RO) or Registered Contact Lens Practitioner (RCLP).
The ACAO exists to regulate opticians in Alberta, but unfortunately, we are not psychic. We can’t stop imposters before they act, potentially putting you at risk. This is why we have requirements for our registered members. We require all practicing opticians to display their current practice permits in a prominent location. If it’s not immediately visible, ask to see this important document so that you are positive the person you are seeing is actually an licensed optician.
Why can’t just anyone be an optician?
Opticians go to school for two, or sometimes three years to earn their title. Accredited education and an advanced practice exam, as well as continuing education requirements, ensure that your optician is a skilled practitioner.
To make sure you see well, precise measurements are taken from your face and eyes to make your lenses. The results must be accurately transferred to the eyewear. This is not a simple task! should your Registered Optician make a mistake by as little as 1 millimeter, you may not be able to use your new eyewear.
Contact lenses and other devices that come in contact with your eye are regulated for your safety. An RCLP knows how to safely insert and remove your contact lenses, and can teach you to do it properly. For your protection, Health Canada has standards for safe contact lenses. The supply found in dispensaries all over Alberta follows these standards. However, buying contact lenses online is unwise; you cannot be sure that the lenses will be made to the same standards. Also, you will not have the guidance of an optician or other optical health professional when selecting and learning to use them. Eyes are delicate organs, and an optician can help you protect them.
You want to “look good,” but you also want to LOOK good…
We understand that the style of the eyeglass frames is very important to you. However, the optician’s recommendation on the type of lenses will ultimately determine how happy you are with your glasses. What good are fashionable frames if your lenses don’t give you the best possible visual outcome? There are hundreds of modern lens types for different visual needs. There are also many lens coatings that will enhance your vision.
Some lenses are designed for people of different ages, and some are designed to accommodate posture, and even eye/head movement. Your optician will assess your lifestyle and your needs, and help you make the best choice. They will help you find a balance between style and functionality, which often go hand in hand, but ultimately it is an optician’s job to ensure that you are not sacrificing comfort for style.