The Society of Connecticut Opticians (SOCO), is one of two optician societies in our state. Our mission is to inspire and unify the profession of opticianry in Connecticut. We are healthcare professionals trained to design, verify and fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight by interpreting prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists. Connecticut currently has over 700 licensed, apprenticed, and student opticians. We are appealing to you because in recent months, a corporate entity, Warby Parker, had unsuccessfully proposed a bill that would have affected our licensure and thus affected the health and safety of the public we treat. Their proposal did not pass screening or even go to a public hearing. However, now it seems that Warby Parker may be attempting to add additional verbiage to Governor’s Bill HB6449. This is of significant concern not only for our profession but just as concerning, the health and wellbeing of the general public.
It seems inappropriate at this time to attempt to attach an unrelated addition of this great significance to this bill. It should be noted that this corporation's interest in the Bill is geared towards Sec.2, part (a) and especially part(c), this focuses on joining interstate licensure pacts. Governor’s Bill HB6449 would allow some standard of reciprocity or reducing experience and training requirements while increasing an exam’s ability to test knowledge or skills. In their initial failed bill proposal, Warby Parker focused on reducing apprenticeship hours, changing statutes that would allow apprentices to be left without supervision of a licensed optician, add more dates for licensing exams and a change in the current continuing education requirements. In other words, Warby Parker is looking at the current statutes that govern licensed opticians at a potential cost of the standard of care to the public that was originally put in place to protect them. This is an attempt to allow them to hire staff that do not meet the high standard of care in the state.
Connecticut opticians are required to be licensed through either an apprenticeship program or through an accredited two year in-state opticianry program. Our licensure standards are more rigorous than most states which give those who are licensed a wider scope of practice, including but not limited to the fitting of contact lenses. Allowing opticians from other states licensure reciprocity would diminish the standard care that has already been established by the state to ensure the public safety.
By including the state’s licensed opticians in this bill could result in a lessened level of care to our public. It will merely allow companies like Warby Parker to employ staff that do not meet the high level of care currently mandated in Connecticut and it is because of this we are appealing to you not to consider licensed opticians as part of the governor's bill HB6449.
Sincerely, Maryann Santos, Executive Director SOCO Board of Directors