Optometry Scope of Practice & Legislation in Quebec, Canada

Here’s another article in our legislative series. Optometry is a legislated profession in the United States and Canada, and the laws on practicing in Canada differ from those on practicing in the United States. Thanks to the University of Montreal‘s AOSA Trustee Mylene Desjardins for writing the article!

How to become an optometrist in Quebec, Canada:

You must obtain an OD Degree from an ACOE-accredited institution AND pass the CACO (Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry) of the Canadian Examiners in Optometry (CEO) OR pass an evaluation of competence in Optometry of the Professional Inspection Committee of the OOQ (Quebec’s Professional Order of Optometry).

  • The admission to practice is governed by the OOQ (Orde des Optométristes du Québec).
  • In order to maintain your Quebec license, you must complete a minimum of 45 hours of continuing education per 3 years. These 45 hours must include 30 hours of continuous education in ocular health and 15 hours of general optometry.

Currently in Quebec, optometrists CAN:

  • Analyze visual function and evaluate vision problems
  • Prescribe, adjust, sell and replace ophthalmic lenses
  • Recommend patients for the prevention of visual problems
  • Prescribe oral vitamins, with the exception of those in the F Annex of Règlement sur les aliments et drogues (C.R.C., c. 870)
  • Remove superficial foreign bodies and epilate misaligned lashes
  • Administer and prescribe topical medications such as:
  1. Mydriatics
  2. Local anesthesics
  3. Anti-allergy drops
  4. NSAID
  5. Corticosteroids
  6. Anti-infectives (antibiotics, antivirals)
  7. Anti-infective and corticosteroïd combinations
  8. Ocular lubricants
  9. Hyperosmotics
  10. Vasoconstricting agents
  11. Anti-glaucoma drops in cases and conditions listed in section II of Loi sur l’optométrie (L.R.Q., C. o-7, a. 19.4, 2e al.)

Currently in Quebec, optometrists CANNOT:

  • Prescribe oral medications (except certain vitamins)
  • Perform surgical procedures
  • Perform fluorescein angiography injections
  • Deliver injectable treatments for diagnosis, treatment, and management of eye pathologies

Current legislative issues in Quebec:

Optometry leaders are having discussions with the Collège des médecins du Québec and the Office of Professions to modify our scope of practice. Optometrists are working on acquiring more autonomy in glaucoma management, lacrimal canal dilation and irrigation, and prescription of oral anti-infectives such as antibiotics and antivirals for ocular problems.

There are also discussions with the Office of Professions on the field of practice of opticians in Quebec. Their association is working on acquiring the right for opticians to do refraction.

Another legislative issue is reviewing the Code of Conduct of Optometrists in Quebec as well as the guidelines on the examination of children with learning difficulties.

Fun Facts about Optometry in Quebec:

  • Annual eye exams for children under 17 years old and for adults over 65 having a Québec health insurance card are covered by the RAMQ (Régie d’Assurance Maladie du Québec) for a full eye exam once every year. Permanent residents of Québec between ages 18 and 64 on Social Assistance (Sécurité du revenu, PSR) have coverage for a full eye exam once every two years.
  • The École d’Optométrie in Montreal (University of Montreal) is one of the oldest institutions of it’s kind in North America. It is also one of the first schools of optometry to have affiliated with a university, almost a hundred years ago.
  • The École d’Optométrie is the only francophone institution in the world that delivers the OD diploma.
  • The École d’Optométrie is the only school in North America to offer a Ph.D. program in conjunction with ophthalmology, which is administered by optometry.

Special thanks to Dr Langis Michaud, OD, Ph.D. and OOQ President!

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