From Ontario Opticians Association Focus Newsletter September 2014
Are opticians stuck in the past? Often, I think about what an optician will look like in ten or twenty years. I’ve witnessed the evolution of our profession over the past 42 years and have seen the small, incremental changes, which at times seemed like world changers. I find it very interesting that when talking to some opticians about the security and evolution of our profession the conversation seems to dwell on where we are now. When I move the conversation towards how our profession must provide more services to the eye care buying public to remain relevant, I seem to lose their attention. Maybe I’m now losing your attention!
I know that we need to think about how we will earn a living today but we also need to think about tomorrow, now! If you’re at all like me, you’re noticing that tomorrow seems to come a lot sooner than expected. So how do opticians become more relevant in the provision of eye care? How do we expand our selection of employment opportunities? The simple answer is that if you want to increase your choice of employment opportunities and the size of your paycheque, you must expand what you have to offer!
We often only talk about refraction when we speak of expanding our scope of practice. However, there are other avenues of specialization for opticians. According to the RHPA, we cannot refer to ourselves as “Specialists” but we can let people know the focus of our practices;pediatrics, geriatrics, and of course low vision, the forgotten sibling within our scope of practice. With Ontario’s aging population, there has never been a bigger group of people that will require low visiservices. So why have the majority of opticians ignored this very valuable service? My view is that the low vision wholesale suppliers haven’t realized the potential business opportunities that are possible with opticians, if they were to provide low vision services on a broader scale.
Specializing in pediatrics, children’s eyewear and specialty contact lenses are just a few opportunities for opticians. Lets not forget refraction. Imagine the opportunities open for opticians if we established ourselves as expert refractionists. Cataract surgeons could be approached to add an exam lane to their practice using a highly skilled optician providing refractions.
Optometrists have within their scope of practice everything we have in our scope and then some. They delegate many of their services to in-office trained staff. Wouldn’t it make sense that an optician is performing these tasks? Whether it’s fitting and dispensing contact lenses, performing tests, and oh yes, refracting.
Specialization should be the focus of opticians today! I believe that as more eye care business models come along, which don’t necessarily have opticians involved at all stages of the dispensing, we will need to expand our focus on what we have to offer.
Can opticians stay relevant in a changing world with education and scope of practice regulations that were brought forward and formalized in the sixties and pretty much rubber-stamped in the early nineties? It’s our choice! Do we stay stuck in the past and do the same thing we have been doing for 50 years? Or do we grasp the future and become specialists within our profession?
Would you like to see more education on Low Vision, Pediatrics, Contact Lenses, Geriatrics, Refraction, or…? Would you like to see series of topics that will get you recognition as having an added level of training within your specific interest?
Tell us where you would like to go…?
Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorne Kashin, RO
Ontario Opticians Association