Optometry Scope of Practice in Canada

What is the optometry scope of practice in Canada?

As a new graduate optometrist, it is important to know the limitations of the optometry scope of practice where you reside.

We live in the most exciting time to practice Optometry in Canada. Many provincial legislations are approving optometrists in their respective jurisdiction to expand our scope of practice to better serve our patients in a timely and efficient manner.

How many of you have ever waited in an emergency hospital for 4-6 hours, and received a lackluster diagnosis and treatment, which could have easily been managed by a primary care physician?

I’m here to tell you what you can and can’t do in Canada.

Download the Infographic

Important Milestones in Canada

  • 1944 – School of Optometry establishes in Montreal, QC and Toronto, ON
  • 1956 – Optometry Act amended to permit optometrists title of “Doctor”.
  • 1967 – Canada’s only English Optometric program move from the University of Toronto to the University of Waterloo and granted the Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree.
  • 1978 – Optometrists allowed to officially use DPAs during regular and medically required eye examinations.
  • 1992 – Federal Government grant optometrists right to be passport guarantors.
  • 1993 – Alberta ODs attend Diagnostic Pharmaceutical Agents (DPAs) course and Therapeutic Pharmaceutical (TPA) certification program held at the University of Alberta and Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. A total of 100 hours of instruction of which 60 hours were didactic and 40 hours clinical. Optometrists from Saskatchewan attended too
  • 1996 – Alberta optometrists to the first in Canada to treat eye and vision diseases with topical pharmaceutical agents.
  • Mid-90’s – Doctors of Optometry began to OCT imaging diagnostics in their offices.
  • 2011 – BC opticians allowed to refract for use in dispensing eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Oral Medication Authority

  • No oral medication authority
    • BC
    • MB
    • QC
    • NB
    • NL
    • PEI
  • Some or all oral medication prescription authority
    • AB
    • SK
    • ON

2) Glaucoma Treatment

  • Not authorized
    • NS
    • NL
    • PEI
  • Treatment with topical drugs
    • BC
    • AB
    • SK
    • MB
    • ON
    • QC
    • NB
    • YK
  • Co-management required with treatment
    • MB
    • QC
    • YK

Oral Steroid Prescription

  • No prescribing authority
    • BC
    • MB
    • ON
    • QC
    • NB
    • NS
    • NL
    • PEI
  • Yes, can prescribe oral steroids
    • AB
    • SK
    • YK (co-management required)

Laboratory Tests

  • Yes
    • AB
    • MB (orbital xray, surface culture)
  • No
    • All other provinces

I found this resource very helpful to have a broad understanding of what is and is not covered by your respective provinces.

Lasers

No laser rights for us up in the North

What can you be doing to keeping the momentum going?

Join your provincial association!

About Steven Hoang

Steven Hoang
I practice and live in Calgary, Alberta Canada with the Rocky Mountains in our backyard. In optometry school, I was President of CAOS (Canadian Association of Optometrists Students') where I represented Canadian students at the national and provincial optometric meetings. I'm excited to join NGO to continue sharing and working with my fellow Canadian colleagues transition back to the strong, north and free.

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