Saturday, March 20, 2010

B.C. Modernizes Regulations For Sale Of Eyewear

New Eyewear Rules In BC
Come Into Effect May 1 2010

The Province introduced a series of changes today that will modernize the way in which British Columbians get their glasses and contact lenses, and give them more choice, announced Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon.

“After lengthy consultation on some of these issues, and a recent court decision that caused us to take a broader look at all the existing regulations, now is the time to take action,” said Falcon.

“With advances in technology and more consumers turning to the Internet, it makes sense to modernize a decades-old system to give British Columbians more choice while maintaining public safety.”

The Province is giving six weeks’ notice that effective May 1, 2010, changes will be made to the regulations for opticians and optometrists under the Health Professions Act, including:

  • Removal of most of the restrictions that allow only opticians or optometrists, or workers supervised by them, to dispense glasses or contacts.
  • Allowing prescriptions issued by medical doctors and optometrists outside of the province to be filled within B.C.
  • Allowing people to order glasses or contacts online without having to give the seller a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment or contact-lens specifications.
  • Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to include in a prescription or sight-test assessment the measurement of distance between the client’s pupils, which is required for the proper fitting of glasses.
  • Requiring opticians and optometrists in B.C. to give clients, free of charge, a copy of their prescription, sight-test assessment or contact-lens specifications – whether or not it is requested by the client – and also to give a copy, free of charge, to a third-party eyewear seller or other person if requested by the client.
The initial fitting of contacts to determine the lens specifications will still be done only by an optician, optometrist or medical doctor, or workers supervised by them, using information contained in a prescription or sight-test assessment.

Also taking effect on May 1 is a change to optician sight-testing. Opticians will now be able to independently conduct sight-tests for healthy clients aged 19-65. This eliminates the extra step of having a sight-test reviewed by a medical doctor who then issues a prescription. Instead, a screening process will be put in place to ensure a client is healthy enough to be eligible for the sight-test, and is fully informed about the difference between a sight-test and an eye-health examination.

The screening process will also require the optician to refer a client to a medical doctor or optometrist if the client has a specified pre-existing condition or if certain test results occur. Regular eye-health examinations will still be recommended for all British Columbians, who should consult a medical doctor or optometrist about how often they should have an eye-health examination.

An October 2009 decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal found that Coastal Contacts, a B.C.-based online eyewear seller with approximately 120 employees, is contravening the regulations by dispensing contact refills without seeing a prescription. These regulatory changes will address the court decision.



  1. I cannot believe that our so called government would do something so stupid! Not only have they taken away all professionalism and respectability from the optometrist/optician industry, they have in one swift move jumped the industry back 14 years to when there were no standards or safety when it comes to eyewear or contact lenses! They have also left the patient open to so many potential problems from over or under corrected prescriptions to undiagnosed eye diseases and vision problems that have no symptoms until far too late. It is a ruling that makes as much sense as saying that pharmacits should be able to prescribe medication based on an in store blood pressure machine. This is going to become a horrible story as more and more people are affected by Kevin Falcon's short-sighted decision. Once again proving that the government officials are obviously not qualified to hold the jobs they do.

  2. A very irresponsible government that takes sight for granted. Without any knowlege or scientific research, they just randomly granting for their own profit. Allowing online ordering for eye care needs, in the end, they can potentially harm more eyes and which consequently, cause an increase in the health budget.

  3. To file complaints in regards to this atrocious regulation, please offer your opinions to the Official BC Health Ministry Feed back Page

  4. To file complaints in regards to this atrocious regulation, please offer your opinions to the Official BC Health Ministry Feed back Page


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