From Ontario Opticians Association Focus Newsletter November 2014
Trending conversations most certainly include Internet dispensing, and competition for Opticians. The Ontario Opticians Association has received many enquiries as to what our official position is on Internet dispensing. The OOA has a duty to investigate and research all aspects of issues such as Internet dispensing and its possible effect on our profession, business models, jobs and our standards of care. The OOA has not yet articulated a position on the Internet dispensing of eyewear as we are still in the process of consulting with our members, our College, and other relevant stakeholders.
It has been published that The College of Opticians and the College of Optometrists communicated to Essilor Canada that its conduct through Coastal Contacts, with regards to Internet eyewear dispensing, is in breach of Ontario regulations. The OOA unequivocally supports the enforcement of Ontario Legislation. It is the desire of the OOA that through dialogue all parties can resolve these issues without costly and lengthy court battles. The OOA is aware that millions of dollars could potentially be spent by all parties (historical fact) that would be better allocated to the promotion of the importance and value of our profession to the public.
The Ontario Opticians Association is uniquely positioned with representing provincially the largest number of opticians. And through our collaboration with the OAC, which represents the majority of opticians in Canada, we are positioned to positively impact the future of Internet delivery of eyewear and mitigate any negative effects on our Profession and our patients. It is the desire of the OOA to harness the power of any new technology to the advantage of our opticians and the delivery of vision care. Join us to become part of a solution and help us build the future.
In May of 2014 the Council of the College of Opticians of Ontario discussed a business model being used in Ontario where an optician operates a kiosk in an industrial setting to allow employees to try on frames virtually and order their prescription safety glasses. The glasses are subsequently dispensed by the registered optician. This creates many questions:
Does this model satisfy the requirements of Ontario law?
- Are patient standards being met?
- Is there professional oversight of the measurement process?
- How does technology affect the dispensing process?
- Is this a model for Internet dispensing?
- What are the opportunities for opticians?
Ontario opticians have always practiced pursuant to Standards that require an optician’s involvement in the interpretation of patients’ prescriptions, visual needs and demands, and also in the dispensing of the glasses to ensure proper fit and successful outcomes.
At the COO Council meeting in September Council approved in principal amendments to the Standards of Practice relating to Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses. These amendments will affect Standards of Practice in the context of evolving business and dispensing models. The entire Standards document is under review and will be brought back to Council at the December Council meeting. The amended Standards will then be circulated to stakeholders for comment. The OOA, as the largest representative of opticians in Ontario, is anxiously awaiting distribution of those recommendations and will be assembling a committee from our professional membership to review and comment. It is vitally important that opticians have input into this process and the OOA applauds the College for allowing the OOA to comment before accepting the changes.
So, here we are. A lot of parts are moving at the same time with a definite need for co-ordination. The evolution of the Internet dispensing model is apparent. An increase of unregulated Internet sellers of eyewear has pressured our industry and professional stakeholders to take action. Collaboration and unity is needed for a positive outcome. The creation of a level playing field for opticians that will allow us to compete in a regulated system that provides the vision care consumer with the level of professional care they need and deserve.
The OOA is committed to the involvement of licensed opticians in the dispensing of eyewear. The vision care consumer deserves positive outcomes. The OOA also continues to work towards a fair and level playing field for all opticians. The OOA is also committed to safeguarding optician’s jobs, job satisfaction and quality.
For these reasons, we will embrace our responsibilities to act as leaders in this issue. The OOA has attended and requested meetings with stakeholders in our field and will be communicating our message, in fact YOUR message, to all parties. The OOA will report to our membership the outcomes of these meetings. Through relationship development and our collaborated efforts we hope OOA member opticians will help guide our profession into the future.
Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. —Henry Ford
Note to members of the OOA… If you have any comments or ideas please send them to me at…