An Op-Ed appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch that supported the JLARC recommendations. Here is the OAV’s response:
On October 9, 2018, the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC), a state agency that conducts program evaluation, policy analysis and oversight of state agencies on behalf of the Virginia General Assembly, released a report recommending the deregulation of Opticians. The regulation of Virginia Opticians has been in place since 1954 to protect the health, safety and welfare of Virginia’s consumers; men, women and children who wear either eyeglasses or contact lenses.
In removing the protection of regulation, consumers in Virginia will suffer. Licensed Opticians are specifically educated and trained to ensure delivery of the prescription as intended by the doctor to a regulated standard of accuracy using myriad lens designs, materials, precise individualized measurements and careful adjustments to achieve the best, most accurate corrected vision.
Licensed Opticians are trained and licensed to translate the doctor’s written prescription into accurate functional eyewear and contact lenses, taking into consideration patient needs, wants, and specific visual requirements, including specific uses such as occupational requirements, workspace needs, protective sport and safety eyewear.
Licensed Opticians are trained and skilled to design the most effective visual solutions for every individual need, from lens designs and materials to specific lens treatments including protective coatings and both occupational and recreational tints. Additionally, Licensed Opticians are trained to determine the best combination of lenses and frames using precise and specific measurements.
Virginia Licensed Opticians must serve a 3-year apprenticeship under the supervision of a Licensed Optician while attending classroom instruction or complete a 2-year accredited college-based AAS degree program through the Virginia Community College System. Completion of either program qualifies graduates to take both a written state examination and a practical hands-on examination to attain licensure. Additionally, separate state examinations, both written and hands-on, are required to fit and dispense contact lenses.
Licensed Opticians are trained to effectively and efficiently communicate with the prescribing doctor about any issues that may arise during the entire fitting, fabrication and dispensing process.
Opticians serve as the hands-on knowledgeable professional between the doctor and patient when the prescription needs to be revised.
The Opticians Association of Virginia represents nearly 1900 Licensed Opticians in the Commonwealth. We provide continuing education and advanced training to ensure that consumers in Virginia are served and protected by well-educated and properly trained Licensed Opticians.
We strongly oppose any attempt to deregulate this invaluable profession and the service and care that Licensed Opticians provide to the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Judy Canty, LDO
President, Opticians Association of Virginia