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Can anyone ‘teach’ contact lens handling?

U2.7.11 Can anyone ‘teach’ contact lens handling?

A query was raised recently by a member who isn’t a contact lens optician (CLO) but had been asked to perform a contact lens ‘teach’ for a patient because the optometrist wasn’t going to be in the practice at the time. This is one of those queries that I dread, simply because it is an area of practice that has never been put to the test.

When this question was raised at a meeting of the ABDO Advice and Guidelines Working Group, we had quite a discussion – but one of our members, Keith Cavaye, voiced the most cogent opinion. He suggested that if you look at the legislation that dictates contact lens fitting, it becomes a little clearer.

The Contact Lens Qualifications Rule 1988 states that only dispensing opticians who hold an approved qualification or certification may fit contact lenses (or optometrists or doctors).

Although considered part of the fitting process, it was suggested that the ‘teach’ should be carried out by the practitioner or someone suitably qualified in their own right or, failing that, someone closely supervised by an optometrist or CLO.

The rest of the working group agreed that this was the most sensible way of settling the discussion, but since it has yet to be decided in a more formal setting it remains our individual opinion, and not part of ABDO’s Advice and Guidelines. So, this member was correct in her concern since she would not be supervised when doing the teach.

One of the concerns that was voiced in the working group was that if there was some sort of emergency during the teach, an abraded cornea perhaps, no-one qualified to check the cornea would be on hand to take over.

Another CLO or optometrist may supervise the teach but they must be aware of the situation, happy that the person who they are supervising is competent to carry out the teach, and be in a position to intervene.