A Quick Guide to Ethics for Dispensing Opticians in BC

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Working as an integral part of an eye-care team, a dispensing optician career offers you the opportunity to assist people in selecting and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses. You will consider factors such as a person’s facial features, occupation and habits to help them choose the eyeglass frames, lenses and lens coatings that will best meet their needs. Not only will you be providing customer support in selecting new eyewear, dispensing opticians will also fix and fit glasses that a customer already owns.

On top of helping customers with their eyewear, this occupation involves administrative duties such as keeping records of payments, customers’ prescriptions, inventory, sales and orders. It also offers the potential to manage locations and staff.

Dispensing opticians in BC also follow a Code of Ethics, designed to guide licensed opticians in their work. Let’s take a look at some of the details of the BC Code of Ethics, as well as some of the changes that have been made to it over time.

Code of Ethics

Dispensing optician training prepares you to follow a Code of Ethics that places value on the integrity of the profession and the interests of healthcare consumers. It maintains that through their practice, licensed opticians must:

  • Keep the patient’s welfare as the highest priority
  • Seek to increase the expertise and reputation of their profession
  • Act with integrity, professionalism and respect with patients and coworkers
  • Inform the public about the level of duty, care and ethical responsibility they can expect from a licensed optician

Overall, the Code of Ethics is designed to ensure a genuine quality of service within the profession.

Changes to Regulations

The popularity of buying eyewear over the internet meant that a few years back, the Ministry of Health Services of B.C. announced changes to the regulations that govern the distribution of eyewear in the province. The new regulations state that opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists are only required to perform the initial fitting and dispensing of contact lenses and then provide patients with the prescription and patient records if they wanted to purchase their lenses elsewhere.

The regulation was put in place to give patients the freedom to purchase eyewear anywhere, including online, but studies show that most people are more comfortable following-up with the location where they originally were given their sight-tests or eye exams.

Some other regulation changes initiated at the same time include:

  • The scope of practice was broadened, allowing those with a dispensing optician diploma to conduct sight-tests on healthy individuals between 19 and 65 and dispense eyewear based on the results of the sight-test.
  • A screening process was put in place to make sure clients were eligible for these sight-tests and that they were informed of the difference between a sight-test and an eye health exam. Patients who don’t pass the screening process are referred to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for follow up.

Why do you think a code of ethics is important in the dispensing optician profession?

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