What is an optician?

Opticians are healthcare professionals who dispense vision appliances, such as eyeglasses and contact lenses. Opticians use specialized skills, knowledge, and feedback from clients to determine what eyewear best suits their needs.

In British Columbia, the titles “optician” and “contact lens fitter”—and all titles derived from these, like “dispensing optician”—are reserved for registrants of the College of Opticians of BC. In addition, contact lens fitting and independent automated refraction are restricted activities. Therefore, anyone wishing to practice opticianry, identify with these titles, or perform restricted activities in this province is required to register with COBC.

As regulated health professionals, opticians are committed to maintaining COBC’s Standards of Practice, Bylaws, and Code of Ethics, as well as mandatory continuing education requirements. They are accountable for the services and products they provide.

Opticians can provide the following services: 

  • Dispensing eyeglasses 
    All opticians can provide this service.
  • Fitting contact lenses
    Some opticians can provide this service, as it requires additional training and an additional licence. An optician must complete this training and hold this licence in order to use the title of “contact lens fitter.”
  • Performing sight tests/automated refractions
    Some opticians can provide this service, as it requires additional training and an additional certification.

A directory of all active opticians in BC can be found here.


You may meet other eye care professionals throughout your vision care journey, including:

Optometrists are healthcare professionals trained to assess the eye and visual system. They conduct eye examinations that assess overall eye health and can diagnose refractive disorders. An optometrist is likely the healthcare professional you will see to obtain your prescription for eyewear. 
Optometrists are regulated by the College of Optometrists of BC.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye and vision care. They also diagnose and treat eye diseases, provide eye exams, prescribe corrective lenses, prescribe and administer medication, and perform surgery.
Ophthalmologists are regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.