Do Optical Shops Have Optometrists?

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Blog by Envision Eye Care

Many provinces in Canada make it mandatory that only certain types of professionals be allowed to sell eyeglasses and contact lenses in optical centres. The list of permitted professionals typically includes opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and/or staff under their supervision.

For this reason, not all optical centres have optometrists and you’re left needing to figure out who you can trust when purchasing eyewear.

Where to buy prescription eyewear?

Advantages of using your optometrist’s optical centre

While opticians are trained in fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses, they are not able to test your vision or write a prescription to correct it. Nor are they able to diagnose or manage diseases of the eye.

Optometrists, on the other hand, are able to do everything that an optician can do, plus more. For example, optometrists can examine your eyes and provide you with an accurate prescription to correct your vision. They can screen you for ocular conditions that may require treatment. Additionally, they have advanced training enabling them to know when you need to see a specialist, such as an ophthalmologist.

For this reason, it makes sense that many people prefer to get their eyeglasses or contact lenses at an optical centre located within their eye doctor’s office. It can be a convenient “one-stop shop” where they can update their prescription, look after the health of their eyes, and shop for eyeglasses or contacts all in one easy trip.

What should I expect to find at my optometrist’s optical shop?

Look for a eyewear shop that has a wide selection of high-quality designer frames.

Additionally, they should offer a good selection of lens types. For example, you may want to look into anti-glare coated lenses, or thinner “high-index” options (popular with patients who require a large correction that would otherwise lead to thicker “coke bottle” lenses). Another popular type of lens is the photochromic lens – this technology allows regular clear lenses to transform automatically into darker ones (that appear much like regular sunglasses) when the wearer is outdoors during daylight. Finally, you may want to get regular prescription sunglasses for driving, since photochromic lenses don’t always darken enough when worn inside a vehicle.

What about eyewear from online optical shops?

For many reasons, it’s not ideal to purchase your corrective eyewear from an online store.

  1. You’ll have a more difficult time figuring out if the person you’re dealing with is experienced or qualified to properly dispense glasses or contacts.
  2. They won’t be able to look out for you in the event that contact lenses lead to problems for you, such as infection.
  3. They will not be able to take measurements of your eyes or adjust your eyewear.
  4. They won’t be able to screen you for any ocular conditions requiring treatment.
  5. In the case of contact lenses, it will be difficult to know if the product you receive is safe. For example, it may be counterfeit (i.e. falsely labeled as a high-quality brand name when in reality it’s not), expired, or improperly stored.

Want proof? A recent University of Waterloo and MAS Productions Consulting report presented to the Ontario Association of Optometrists (found here) highlights a “Internet Spectacle Study”. The findings are alarming.

What about seeing an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are best suited to people who have more serious eye conditions that are not able to be treated by an optometrist. Ophthalmologists often perform surgery which is frequently first detected or diagnosed by your optometrist (just one more reason why your family should be getting their eyes checked annually). Additionally, getting an appointment and seen by an ophthalmologist comes with long wait times.

Reputable optometrists with an “in-house” optical centre is ideal

The combination of an optometrist you trust and an on-site great selection of corrective eyewear is the ideal scenario for most patients. You get the benefit of their advanced training and experience, the assurance of safety, plus, the convenience of being able to shop for your eyeglasses or contacts at the same location.

If you’re in the Oakville, Burlington, Milton Ontario area and would like to see Envision Eye Care’s selection of top brand eyeglasses, contacts or get an eye exam – book a visit today!