Unauthorized Practice

Unauthorized practice is the practise of dispensing to the public by an individual who does not have the required authorization/is not registered with the College. Dispensing includes preparing, fitting, adjusting, adapting and dispensing prescription opticial devices. The College may pursue legal action against non-opticians engaged in dispensing. 

You can report non-opticians who are dispensing by completing the Unauthorized Practice Reporting Form.

The College’s mandate.

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The mandate of the College of Opticians of Ontario (the “College”) is to serve and protect the public interest by regulating the practice of opticianry. The College does this by ensuring that its registrants are practising competently, safely, and ethically, as well as by registering only those people who are qualified to do so (by fulfilling all registration requirements outlined in the Registration Regulation).  

The public is protected by mandatory registration. 

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The public of Ontario has the right to receive fitting and dispensing services from qualified opticians (ROs) who are registered with the College and held accountable to practice the profession in accordance with the Standards of Practice set by the College, Code of Conduct and the Opticianry Act. 

An individual must be registered to: 

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An individual must be registered to:

  • prepare, fit, adjust, adapt and dispense prescription optical appliances, including, eyeglasses, contact lenses and subnormal vision devices to the public, 
  • interpret the prescriptions for optical devices made by doctors/optometrists,
  • present themselves as a licensed optician

Who is authorized to dispense prescription eyewear in Ontario? 

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The following health professionals are authorized to dispense prescription eyewear in Ontario:

  • Opticians registered with the College of Opticians of Ontario
  • Optometrists registered with the College of Optometrists of Ontario
  • Ophthalmologists registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario 

For more information on the difference between opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists, click here

In addition, the following individuals are entitled to dispense prescription eyewear under supervision by one of the health professionals referred to above:

  • Student/intern opticians: these individuals must work under the direct supervision of an optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist and must wear a badge that identifies them as a student/intern optician.
  • Authorized delegates: opticians are permitted to delegate dispensing functions to a non-optician with appropriate training. The optician must by physically present when the dispensing takes place and provide supervision. 

Use a registered professional. 

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It is important to know that an unregistered person: 

  • may not be properly trained to provide services,
  • is not bound by the standards of practice for Registered Opticians.

How do I know if the person who dispensed my eyewear was authorized/licensed?  

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Every regulated health professional in Ontario is listed on a public register kept by their college.

To verify the registration status of an optician, visit Find and Optician

You can also check whether someone is registered with the College of Optometrists or the College of Physicians and Surgeons by visiting the public registers kept by those colleges. Please note that these registers are maintained by their own regulatory colleges, and therefore you will need to contact those colleges directly with any questions about the registration status of an optometrist or an ophthalmologist: 

  • To verify whether someone is registered as an optometrist, visit Find an Optometrist 
  • To verify whether someone is registered as an ophthalmologist, visit Doctor Search

Employers and the public should use the College’s public register of registrants to verify the registration status of every optician they employ or have dealings with. The public register is updated regularly and contains the most current information on every active and past registrant.

Employers and the public can use the public register's place of practice search function to find registrants who have designated a specific location as their place of business and download a copy of that list. 

Employers are urged to contact the College if they become aware of someone who is actively looking for work as a RO or is already doing so without having registered with the College.  

What steps does the College take against unauthorized practice? 

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The College reviews all information that it receives about businesses or individuals who may be engaging in authorized practice, and following further investigation, may take one or more of the following actions in the event of a concern:

  • Provide the individual or business with information and/or resources to educate them about the rules for dispensing prescription eyewear in Ontario. 
  • take legal action, where appropriate, such as seeking injunctions or contempt of court orders. 

The College utilizes the following risk-based approach when assessing unauthorized practice concerns along with the information gathered to determine the level of risk to public safety and to take the appropriate level of action:

Examples of orders obtained by the College can be found here.

Seeking a refund in addition to reporting unauthorized practice? 

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Please note that the College cannot assist with obtaining refunds. The College does not have the authority to require an optician, an unauthorized practitioner, or a business to issue refunds or replacements of glasses or to dictate store policies. Individuals who believe they are entitled to a refund or replacement should seek legal advice on their options

Why is it important for individuals to be registered with the College to practice opticianry? 

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Registration with the College protects the public by ensuring that all opticians practicing in Ontario meet the Standards of Practice of the profession. 

As a regulator, the College only has jurisdiction over its registrants. Therefore, if a registrant of the public has concerns about the actions of an unregistered individual, the College is unable to investigate a complaint or consider a report regarding that person’s conduct. 

Further information about the role of the College and the registration requirements and process can be found on the College’s website at: www.collegeofopticians.ca   


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