For Immediate Release - August 12, 2013

Massachusetts Board of Dispensing Opticians Takes Action Against Licensees for Failing to Complete Continuing Education Requirements

Audit Shows 659 Out of 1,620 Licensees Were Not Meeting Requirements

BOSTON – The Board of Registration of Dispensing Opticians today announced it has taken enforcement actions against 659 dispensing opticians after finding that they had not met continuing education requirements. The Board is one of 31 Boards under the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) and one of 23 Boards that have continuing education requirements tied to license renewal.

“The Board’s actions ensure that consumers are getting the best quality services when buying eyeglasses and contact lenses,” said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which oversees the DPL and the Board of Registration of Dispensing Opticians. “Regular audits of continuing education requirements give consumers and the Board certainty that our licensed professionals are proficient in their field.”

Board investigators audited all 1,620 dispensing opticians who renewed their licenses from 2007 to 2009.  Under Board regulations put in place in 2006, dispensing opticians are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years. These requirements help ensure that licensees stay up to date with industry practices.

Fines and other enforcement actions are intended to discipline licensees who failed to obtain and document the required 12 hours of continuing education, while attesting on their license renewals that they had done so. Audits are performed periodically to verify that licensees have in fact completed these requirements.

Of the 659 licensees disciplined by the Board, 590 paid a standard $200 fine for a first-time violation. Another 69 licensees were subject to further proceedings and had additional sanctions such as license revocations, voluntary license surrenders, 30-day suspensions, probationary periods, and additional continuing education requirements imposed on their licenses. The maximum fine imposed was $1,000 for a licensee who had been suspended for 30 days for forging continuing education documentation then was subsequently caught practicing during that suspension period. In total, the Board collected more than $122,500 in fines.

“Continuing education requirements help dispensing opticians stay informed about new developments, practices, and technologies, so that consumers can be confident about their care,” said Mark Kmetz, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure.  “These requirements are most effective when subject to enforcement, and audits help facilitate that enforcement.”

Dispensing opticians fit and dispense prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses.  They are distinct from optometrists and ophthalmologists, who examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures.  Ophthalmologists are physicians and may also perform limited surgical procedures on individuals seeking such treatment. 

The Board of Registration of Dispensing Opticians protects the public by testing candidates and licensing those who are qualified, ensuring compliance with state statutes and the Board’s rules and regulations, and conducting hearings and facilitating resolutions to consumer complaints.  The Board also manages apprenticeship training programs, approves educational standards for school-based optician programs, and monitors the continuing education requirements of licensees. 

The DPL is a regulatory agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of the licensing process for more than 370,000 licensees in trades and professions under the jurisdiction of 31 boards of registration. DPL also licenses and regulates private occupational schools.  

Consumers are urged to visit the DPL’s website at www.mass.gov/dpl and select the “Check a Professional’s License” link to determine whether a professional with whom they may do business is licensed and in good standing.  Follow DPL on Twitter @MassDPL.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @Mass_Consumer