TORONTO, (February 24, 2012) –In light of a CBC Marketplace Investigation of the prescription eyewear sector, the College of Optometrists of Ontario (the College) would like to take this opportunity to clarify its position and educate the public on its role of public protection in Ontario.
The College’s mandate is to protect the public interest and ensure that the public has access to safe, high quality optometric care. The regulations that are in place, require that prescription eyewear be dispensed based on a prescription issued by an optometrist, or a physician. Without a complete eye examination performed by one of these regulated health professionals, serious eye health conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetes and corneal disease, may go undetected.
In Ontario, only optometrists, opticians and physicians are authorized to dispense prescription eyewear. Eyewear dispensed by unqualified individuals can pose a risk of harm to the public. Even a slightly inaccurate prescription can have negative health effects, such as blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, nausea, or eye infection.
The College’s primary concern is public safety. In 2003, the College began legal action against an optician, Mr. Bruce Bergez, for illegally dispensing glasses without a prescription from an optometrist or a physician. The courts found Mr. Bergez guilty of violating the laws of Ontario and subsequently guilty of contempt of court. Mr. Bergez’ actions were not in keeping with the regulations put in place to protect the public and to support quality eye care.
Ontario’s more than 1,900 optometrists are regulated by the College of Optometrists of Ontario. Optometrists are eye care professionals that must meet strict educational requirements to achieve and maintain registration in Ontario.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Paula Garshowitz, Registrar
College of Optometrists of Ontario