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Ophthalmic Dispenser

Description:

An ophthalmic dispenser - commonly called an "optician" - is a licensed health care professional who adapts and fits lenses to correct deficiencies, deformities, or abnormalities of the eyes based on a written prescription from a licensed physician or optometrist. Contact lens practitioners are ophthalmic dispensers who are certified to fit contact lenses. Ophthalmic dispensers and certified contact lens practitioners work to:

  • achieve the best visual clarity possible for their customers;
  • assist in the selection of frames; and
  • choose appropriate ophthalmic lenses or contact lenses to suit your needs.

Licensing Requirements:

To be licensed as an ophthalmic dispenser in New York State you must:

  • be of good moral character
  • be at least 18 years of age; and
  • meet education, examination, and experience requirements.

Certification as a contact lens dispenser can occur simultaneously but cannot occur prior to licensure as an ophthalmic dispenser.

The specific requirements for licensure are contained in Title 8, Article 144, Section 7124 of New York's Education Law and Part 67 of the Commissioner's Regulations.

Education and Experience Requirements:

To satisfy the education requirements for licensure as an ophthalmic dispenser, you must present evidence of both A and B below.

  1. Preprofessional Education

    Satisfactory completion of a New York State registered high school program, or the equivalent as determined by the State Education Department, including completion of one year of mathematics such as algebra or geometry. Completion of general or business mathematics does not meet the mathematics requirement.

  2. Professional Education
    1. Satisfactory completion of a two-year collegiate ophthalmic dispensing program registered by the New York State Education Department as licensure qualifying or accredited by a national accreditation agency satisfactory to the Department (e.g., the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation). You must have your school's Registrar forward a completed Certification of Professional Education (Form 2) documenting satisfactory completion of all requirements for your degree.

      If you completed a program not indicated above, including foreign training, you must have your school submit a completed Certification of Professional Education (Form 2) documenting completion of your education program. In addition, an official copy of your degree or diploma with transcripts and translations must be submitted. The completed Certification of Professional Education (Form 2) and official record(s) must be sent directly from the school to:

      New York State Education Department
      Office of the Professions
      Division of Professional Licensing Services
      Ophthalmic Dispensing Unit
      89 Washington Avenue
      Albany, New York 12234-1000

    2. OR

    3. Satisfactory completion of a two-year (24 month) training program in ophthalmic dispensing approved by the Department. You must obtain a trainee permit and your training must be completed under the supervision of a licensed ophthalmic dispenser, optometrist, or physician. Your supervisor(s) must submit a Certification of Trainee Experience in Ophthalmic Dispensing and/or Contact Lens Dispensing (Form 4), with their signature(s) certifying 24 months with at least 2,400 clock hours of approved training. In addition, you must submit a certificate documenting satisfactory completion of the National Academy of Opticianry's Career Progression Program. For details about the Career Progression Program certificate, please contact:

      National Academy of Opticianry
      8401 Corporate Drive, Suite 605
      Landover, MD 20785
      Phone: 301-577-4828 or 800-229-4828
      Fax: 301-577-3880
      Web: http://www.nao.org/

      If you completed an out-of-state on-the-job training experience under the supervision of a licensed ophthalmic dispenser, physician, or optometrist, you may have your experience evaluated by the State Board for Ophthalmic Dispensing to determine if it meets the two years of supervised training required by Section 7124(a)(2) of Education Law. A letter of experience must be submitted directly to the Board from your supervisor(s) detailing the time and extent of experience received in fitting and adjusting lenses, verification and interpretation of prescriptions, and other aspects of the practice of ophthalmic dispensing. You must also submit a certificate from the National Academy of Opticianry documenting completion of the Career Progression Program. For details about the Career Progression Program certificate, contact the National Academy of Opticianry at the address listed above.

      In addition, you must ask your high school to send a copy of your high school transcript documenting completion of one year of mathematics such as algebra or geometry directly to the Department.

      Certification as a contact lens dispenser can only occur at the same time as licensure as an ophthalmic dispenser or thereafter.

Examination Requirements:

Ophthalmic Dispensing

Two examinations are required for licensure in ophthalmic dispensing - a written examination and a practical examination.

  1. Written Examination
  2. The American Board of Opticianry's (ABO) National Opticianry Competency Examination, or an examination determined by the Department to be comparable in content, is required for ophthalmic dispensing licensure. For details regarding the ABO examination, including costs, registration, and specific dates of administration, contact:

    American Board of Opticianry
    National Contact Lens Examiners
    6506 Loisdale Rd. Suite 209
    Springfield, VA 22150
    Phone: 800-296-1379 or 703-719-5800
    Fax: 703-719-9144
    Web: http://www.abo-ncle.org/

  3. Practical Examination

    To take the New York State Basic Ophthalmic Dispensing practical examination, you must file an application for licensure, attain a passing score on the ABO written examination, and be approved for admission to the examination by the New York State Education Department. The Department contracts with Capitol Hill Testing Service (CHTS), a professional test administration service, to administer the ophthalmic dispensing practical licensure examination. The examination is offered twice a year. For details regarding the New York State Basic Ophthalmic Dispensing practical examination, including costs and specific dates of administration, contact:

    Capitol Hill Testing Service
    1450 Western Avenue, Suite 101
    Albany, New York 12203
    Phone: 800-724-8633 or 518-462-6805

Contact Lens Dispensing

Two examinations are required for certification as a contact lens dispenser - a written examination and a practical examination.

  1. Written Examination
  2. The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry Examination, or an examination determined by the Department to be comparable in content, is required for contact lens dispensing certification. For details regarding the NCLE examination, including costs, registration, and specific dates of administration, contact:

    American Board of Opticianry
    National Contact Lens Examiners
    6506 Loisdale Rd. Suite 209
    Springfield, VA 22150
    Phone: 800-296-1379 or 703-719-5800
    Fax: 703-719-9144
    Web: http://www.abo-ncle.org/

  3. Practical Examination

    To take the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination, you must either be licensed in New York State as an ophthalmic dispenser or file an Application for Licensure (Form 1) to obtain approval for admission to the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination by the New York State Education Department.

    If you are licensed in New York State as an ophthalmic dispenser and have met the contact lens education requirement outlined above, you only need to submit a written request to sit for the examination to the Department. Your request must include the date you passed the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry Examination.

    The Department contracts with Capitol Hill Testing Service (CHTS), a professional test administration service, to administer the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination. The examination is offered once a year. For details regarding the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination, including costs and specific dates of administration, contact:

    Capitol Hill Testing Service
    1450 Western Avenue, Suite 101
    Albany, New York 12203
    Phone: 800-724-8633 or 518-462-6805

Fees: (as of November 2, 2016)

The licensure fee for ophthalmic dispensing is $108.
There is no fee for certification as a contact lens dispenser.
The fee for a limited permit in ophthalmic dispensing or contact lens dispensing is $35.
The fee for a trainee permit in ophthalmic dispensing or contact lens dispensing is $30.

Licenses Issued and Active:

In 2014, there were 156 licenses issued for this occupation.
In 2015, there were 127 licenses issued for this occupation.

As of July 1, 2016, there were 4,118 active licenses for this occupation.

Licensing Authority:

New York State Education Department
Office of the Professions
Division of Professional Licensing Services
Ophthalmic Dispensing Unit
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234-1000
Phone: 518-474-3817, ext. 250
Fax: 518-402-5354
E-mail: opunit1@nysed.gov

Standard Occupational Classification:

29-2081 - Opticians, Dispensing
To learn more about this occupation search the Occupational Information Network (O*Net).

Additional Information:

National Academy of Opticianry
8401 Corporate Drive, #605
Landover, Maryland 20785
Phone: (800) 229-4828 or (301) 577-4828
Fax: (301) 577-3880
E-mail: naoacademy@aol.com

Disclaimer:

Fees stated and other information contained in this report are subject to change. Please contact the licensing authority listed above for the most current information.

This page was last updated on 12/16/16.

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