Patient FAQ

What is the role of the College of Opticians of Ontario?

The College of Opticians of Ontario is a regulatory body. The College regulates the practise of Opticianry by ensuring Registered Opticians are qualified and are consistently providing safe and ethical care to patients. The College is not a teaching institution. 

The College was established in 1991 under the Regulated Health Professions Act and has a duty to serve and protect the public interest by overseeing the conduct and competence of Registered Opticians in Ontario. The College also sets and enforces practise standards and responds to complaints if standards are not being met. 

What is the difference between an optician, optometrist and ophthalmologists?


Sometimes referred to as Registered Opticians or Licensed Opticians are health professionals trained to:

  • Supply prepare and dispense optical appliances
  • Interpret prescriptions prepared by optometrists and physicians/ophthalmologists
  • Fit, adjust and adapt optical appliances.
  • In Ontario, opticians are regulated by the College of Opticians of Ontario.


Are health professionals trained to:

  • Assess the eye and visual system
  • Diagnose sensory and ocular motor disorders, dysfunctions of the eye and refractive disorders.
  • Prescribe and dispense corrective devices.
  • In Ontario Optometrists are regulated by the College of Optometrists of Ontario


Are physicians who specialize in eye and vision care and are trained to:

  • Diagnose and treat eye disease
  • Provide eye exams and prescribe corrective lenses
  • Prescribe and administer medication and perform surgery.

Do I need a referral to see an optician?

No. Opticians are trained to fit, adjust and dispense eye glasses and contact lenses.

What are the different services my Optician can offer me?

Opticians can dispense eyeglasses:

Registered Opticians interpret eyeglass prescriptions while taking into account the patient's occupation, habits, and facial features.  Recommendations on eyeglass frames, lenses and lens coatings are made after considering the power of the lenses. Existing eyewear can be duplicated without seeking a new prescription.

Opticians can fit contact lenses:

Registered Opticians can instruct on how to insert, remove and care for contacts lenses, cosmetic shells or artificial eyes. At periodic intervals through a patient’s contact lens wearing life, Registered Opticians are required to check the fitting of the contacts lenses, ensuring no harm to the eye.

Opticians can provide low vision aids:

Registered Opticians can provide low vision aids to make reading easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable while designing the best system for that individual. Devices can range from simple hand-held magnifying lenses systems to high-tech computerized electronic systems.

Opticians can provide vision screening services:

Over 3000 Ontario Registered Opticians have been trained in large-scale vision screening programs. Many are putting this education into practise by hosting neighborhood eye care events that are focused on awareness of eye health.

The College of Opticians of Ontario is pleased these programs are designed to benefit the public. We also applaud the fact that these programs were held across the province.

Some Opticians can Sight-Test:

An automated refraction (sight test) is a computerized assessment of how the eyes bend and focus light to create an image on the retina. The process has been scientifically proven as a safe and reliable.

The sight test is done using a sophisticated computer program to test and measure visual acuity. It also calculates whether clients would see more clearly with the help of corrective lenses and determines the strength of lenses needed.

There are established qualifications, standards and strict guidelines around automated refraction to protect public safety. Only Registered Opticians who are trained to safely and effectively perform sight testing are permitted to assess visual acuity.

What is the difference between the College of Opticians of Ontario and a professional association?

College of Opticians of Ontario

Professional Association

  • Membership for opticians is mandatory
  • Protect the public interest
  • Receive and resolve complaints
  • Promote continuing competence through the quality assurance program
  • Establish and monitor professional standards of practise
  • Membership for opticians is not mandatory
  • Advocate for needs of profession
  • Provide professional liability insurance
  • Provide continuing education and seminars
  • Deliver industry news

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