The Three O’s

Opticians are one of the three health professions that are concerned with eyes and eye health.

The other two “O’s” responsible for eyes are Ophthalmologists, and Optometrists.

Just like a nurse, a doctor, and a surgeon, we have different specializations, and different levels of study.


Opticians are health professionals who supply, prepare, and dispense optical appliances. Basically, we take care of your glasses and contact lens needs, usually working with an Optometrist.

Opticians interpret prescriptions written by Ophthalmologists and Optometrists, and consider factors that affect the design and fabrication of the finished appliance.

We’ll help you choose a frame that will work with the lens you need, or find you the best contact lenses for your eyes. When your glasses or contacts are ready, an optician can fit and adjust them as required.

Opticians in Alberta must prove their competency with the NACOR exam, usually after earning a diploma in Opticianry. Once they are registered, they continue to prove competency with continuing education courses. The Alberta College and Association of Opticians regulates opticians in Alberta.


Optometrists are health professionals who assess the eye and visual system. They can diagnose ocular motor disorders and dysfunctions, and detect other health problems. An Optometrist can prescribe and dispense corrective devices.

Doctors of Optometry (OD), usually study for about 8 years before they earn the title. In Alberta, Optometrists are regulated by The Alberta College of Optometrists (ACO).


Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MD) who specialize in eye and vision care. They can diagnose and treat eye diseases, and provide eye exams to patients.

Ophthalmologists can also prescribe corrective lenses, and prescribe and administer medication. Most importantly, they can perform surgery.

Usually, you will only see an ophthalmologist when you have a special need. In Alberta, Ophthalmologists are regulated by: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.