A recent application to seek an injunction preventing Essilor/Clearly from unlawfully dispensing prescription eyewear over the internet has been successful. The College of Optometrists and the College of Opticians jointly filed the application in December 2016 and the matter was heard October 11, 2017. Justice Lederer delivered his decision January 11, 2018 in favour of the two regulatory colleges.
Although the colleges are still reviewing the decision in detail, they are pleased that the court has agreed with their position on the questions they brought forward. The two colleges are motivated by, and required by legislation to maintain, patient safety and the public interest. It is possible that the company may appeal the decision – that is their option. If the company does appeal, the colleges will continue to defend the public interest in court.
The colleges believe that the internet can be an effective tool for the provision of vision care, however the dispensing of corrective lenses is a controlled act, subject to Ontario legislation, that definitively requires a regulated health professional’s involvement. Mail order over the internet without the involvement of an optometrist or optician is inconsistent with legislation.
The role of the colleges is to regulate the practice of optometry and opticianry to maintain and enhance public safety. The colleges do not have any bias in the dispensing of corrective lenses, or where those lenses are dispensed, as long as legislation and regulations are respected and standards are met.
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