Optician Services

What is ophthalmic dispensing and use of title "ophthalmic dispenser" or "optician"?

Only a person licensed or exempt under this article or a corporation, partnership or persons doing business under an assumed name and either composed of licensed ophthalmic dispensers or employing licensed ophthalmic dispensers shall practice ophthalmic dispensing or use the title "ophthalmic dispenser", "optician", "optical technician", "dispensing optician", or "optical dispenser."

Can I buy my prescription eyeglasses online?

New York State law requires prescription eyewear to be fitted and dispensed in person by a licensed practitioner (ophthamlic dispenser/optician, optometrist, ophthalmologist). Although any number of websites offer the sale of eyewear, the consumer must be aware of a number of things. Prescription eyeglasses are highly customized. There are numerous measurements that go into the fitting and fabrication that cannot be conveyed over the phone or internet. These include, but are not limited to: the shape of your nose and ears, the width of your face and the overall size of your head. Measurements such as these, and bifocal or multifocal height, can only be measured when you are face to face with a dispenser wearing the eyeglass frames you are planning to purchase. In addition, the form, thickness, and material that your prescription lenses are made of should be discussed with your eyecare professional. A bargain that may be advertised online may result in a pair of glasses being heavier than necessary, or cause eye fatigue or headache.

New Yorkers are advised to be wise consumers and consult their eyecare professional.

For what period of time is a prescription valid?

The length of time that a prescription is valid is not addressed in Education Law. Typically we state that an outer limit for acceptably is two years. However, that limitation is based more on insurance company policies than provisions of law. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your judgement as a licensed practitioner. Prescriptions can not be filled past any stated expiration date.

The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act requires a prescription for contact lenses to be valid for at least one year unless, in the prescriber's medical judgment, the patient's eye health requires a shorter period of time.

Is a patient's pupillary distance measurement a part of the patient's prescription?

Generally speaking, the pupillary distance measurement is not included in the prescription provided by an optometrist or physician. However, should the prescriber include the pupillary distance on the prescription, it would be part of the prescription.

Once an ophthalmic dispenser measures and records the patient's pupillary distance, it becomes part of the patient's records. As such, it would be available to the patient in accordance with the provisions of sections 29.1(b)(7) and 29.2(b) of the Rules of the Board of Regents and section 18 of the Public Health Law.

In the absence of providing any other services, may an ophthalmic dispenser charge a patient for measuring his or her pupillary distance?

As with any other service he or she provides, an ophthalmic dispenser may charge a patient for measuring the patient’s pupillary distance.

What records does my ophthalmic dispenser retain? Can anyone else get them?

Your file contains a record of your evaluation and your prescription. Ophthalmic dispensers must keep client records for six years or until the client turns 22, whichever is longer. Generally, your records are confidential unless you approve their release. Ask your professional about exceptions to this. If you want a copy of your records, provide your ophthalmic dispenser with a written request. You may be charged a reasonable fee to offset the cost of providing copies.

Additional information can be obtained at: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/od/odlaw.htm