A member asked if an optical assistant (OA) in the practice could supply plano lenses to a patient wishing to have a designer frame made up with plano sun spec lenses. The answer was, as always, more complicated than the simple yes or no he was expecting. Plano lenses are not considered an optical appliance in law so, in theory, anyone may supply them legally to anybody. But is that professional? This patient had gone into the member’s practice to purchase the designer look she wanted. Had she had a sight test? Was the result plano? Unusual not to have any prescription…
As an adult, there would be no problem if she did have a prescription but should a registered professional be advising on tints? Not a legal requirement but perhaps a sign of professionalism? Do the chosen designer frames actually fit the patient? Should an optician’s practice be selling an item that may not fit correctly or be fit for purpose?
For a patient to visit a practice for sun specs rather than one of the many retail outlets, she almost certainly wanted a pair that fitted well and suited her face, rather than an ‘off the peg’ pair that she might not be so comfortable wearing.
Our member could quite legally leave this sale to an OA; they are often trained well enough to know when to seek extra advice on the fitting or suitability of the frame or indeed the tint requested.
This is an opportunity for the practice to demonstrate the skill and knowledge of its staff as well as the level of care they offer patients. Care must be taken, of course, not to appear awkward or unhelpful with such an enquiry. We can all feel such patients might be time wasters and unlikely to buy anything, but it is only by demonstrating you helpfulness that your patient will return when prescription spectacles are needed and recommend family and friends.
Plano lenses have caused concern to other members. There have been enquiries as to whether a DO may dispense a plano lens to a post cataract patient without a prescription, or indeed plano lenses to a designer frame as a fashion accessory.
All perfectly legal but when a registered DO is dispensing the item, they should always show the same professionalism as when dispensing a powered lens, regardless of the legal status of the plano lens.
There is one circumstance when I think the sale should only be carried out by a registered practitioner and that is when the patient is SI or SSI. These patients are protected in law – and while the plano lens might not be an optical appliance, in the eyes of the law the care of the patient is paramount.
#plano lenses #prescriptions