We are health care professionals
Opticians promote eye health, and work with the public and other optical health professionals to give you the best possible vision outcome.
We are very good at assessing lifestyle requirements, such as your hobbies and occupation, to figure out what kind of lenses and frames are best for you.
We can help you adjust to contact lenses, and we can recommend a variety of low vision aides. Opticians do much more than just “sell glasses.”
Two years of post-secondary school and a rigorous exam
Through a combination of coursework and hands-on experience under the guidance of a professional, a student optician learns much more than they may actually encounter in the field.
In order to become licensed, the student has to pass the NACOR exam, which is held to high standards across Canada. Once registered with the ACAO, an optician must continue to learn and renew their skills through Continuing Education courses.
This is how you know that you can trust your optician to make excellent ocular devices. However, if you have run into an issue with your optician, visit our Complaints and Disciplines page to see what the proper procedure is for filing a complaint, and whether there are other methods to resolve the issue first.
Every optician knows glasses
All Registered Opticians may design, prepare, dispense and adjust eyeglasses and low vision aids based on an optical prescription.
While we do not write prescriptions, we turn your prescription into the finished product that helps you see. A lot of calculation and micro-adjustment goes into making your glasses work for you, and opticians are trained to do it all.
Before your glasses are made, your optician will help you determine the best features for you. Many additions can be made to glasses, such as anti-reflective coating, scratch resistant coating, and more.
An optician is a health professional first, and the law requires that they think of you as a patient before they think of you as a patron. Any additions they suggest should be in the interest of enhancing your comfort and visual acuity. They will ask you questions about your lifestyle: Do you play sports? What kind of work do you do? How much time to you spend on the computer? Your answers will help them determine what kind of frames, lenses, and additions will be right for you.
After the glasses are manufactured, an optician will adjust them, by hand or by using special tools, to ensure they fit you comfortably. Some opticians also fix, adjust, and refit broken frames. Opticians instruct patients about adapting to, wearing, or caring for eyeglass.
An additional year of training
In Alberta, Registered Opticians can further their studies to become Registered Contact Lens Practitioners.
All Registered Contact Lens Practitioners may design, prepare, dispense and adjust contact lenses based on an optical prescription. Only licensed professionals can fit contact lenses, because it is a protected activity under the Health Protections Act.
To obtain a license to dispense contact lenses, the student must complete an additional eight month program at NAIT. Again, the student must work under the direct supervision of a licensed contact lens practitioner and will complete coursework. They must also pass a NACOR exam for contact lens practitioners.
If glasses are not enough, opticians can help with a combination of low vision aids
Registered Opticians help provide low vision aids to the visually impaired, so that reading is easier and more enjoyable. Specially trained opticians will consult with visually impaired clients and choose the best combination of vision aids for that individual’s specific limitation. Devices can vary from simple hand-held magnifying lens systems to high-tech computerized or electronic systems.
Opticians can manufacture glasses, but most do not
Registered Opticians prepare work orders so that laboratory technicians have the information needed to grind and insert lenses into frames. The work order includes the power of the lenses and information on the size, material, colour, and style.
Some Registered Opticians grind and insert lenses themselves, but many find that they are too busy to perform this task. After the glasses are made, Registered Opticians verify that the lenses have been ground to specifications.