License Requirements and Requirements for a Certificate in Contact Lens Dispensing

General Requirements | Fees | Partial Refunds | Education Requirements | Examination Requirements | Applicants Licensed in Another State | Limited Permits

General Requirements

To be licensed as an ophthalmic dispenser in New York State you must:

  • be of good moral character;
  • be at least 18 years of age; and
  • meet education, examination, and experience requirements.

Certification as a contact lens dispenser can occur simultaneously but cannot occur prior to licensure as an ophthalmic dispenser.

Submit an application for licensure and the other forms indicated, along with the appropriate fee, to the Office of the Professions at the address specified on each form. It is your responsibility to follow up with anyone you have asked to send us material.

The specific requirements for licensure are contained in Title 8, Article 144, Section 7124 of New York's Education Law and Part 67 of the Commissioner's Regulations.

You should also read the general licensing information applicable for all professions.


Fees

The licensure fee for ophthalmic dispensing is $108.

There is no fee for certification as a contact lens dispenser.

The fee for a limited permit in ophthalmic dispensing or contact lens dispensing is $35.

The fee for a trainee permit in ophthalmic dispensing or contact lens dispensing is $30.

Fees are subject to change. The fee due is the one in law when your application is received (unless fees are increased retroactively). You will be billed for the difference if fees have been increased.

  • Do not send cash.
  • Make your personal check or money order payable to the New York State Education Department. Your cancelled check is your receipt.
  • Mail your application and fee to:

    New York State Education Department
    Office of the Professions
    PO Box 22063
    Albany, NY 12201

NOTE: Payment submitted from outside the United States should be made by check or draft on a United States bank and in United States currency; payments submitted in any other form will not be accepted and will be returned.


Partial Refunds

Individuals who withdraw their licensure application may be entitled to a partial refund.

  • For the procedure to withdraw your application, contact the Ophthalmic Dispencing Unit at opunit1@mail.nysed.gov or by calling 518-474-3817 ext. 250 or by fax at 518-402-5354.
  • The State Education Department is not responsible for any fees paid to an outside testing or credentials verification agency.

If you withdraw your application, obtain a refund, and then decide to seek New York State licensure at a later date, you will be considered a new applicant, and you will be required to pay the licensure and registration fees and meet the licensure requirements in place at the time you reapply.


Education Requirements

To satisfy the education requirements for licensure as an ophthalmic dispenser, you must present evidence of both A and B below.

  1. Preprofessional Education

    Satisfactory completion of a New York State registered high school program, or the equivalent as determined by the State Education Department, including completion of one year of mathematics such as algebra or geometry. Completion of general or business mathematics does not meet the mathematics requirement.

  2. Professional Education

    To satisfy the professional education requirement, you must present evidence of either 1 or 2 below:

    1. Satisfactory completion of a two-year collegiate ophthalmic dispensing program registered by the New York State Education Department as licensure qualifying or accredited by a national accreditation agency satisfactory to the Department (e.g., the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation). You must have your school's Registrar forward a completed Certification of Professional Education (Form 2) documenting satisfactory completion of all requirements for your degree.

      If you completed a program not indicated above, including foreign training, you must have your school submit a completed Certification of Professional Education (Form 2) documenting completion of your education program. In addition, an official copy of your degree or diploma with transcripts and translations must be submitted. The completed Certification of Professional Education (Form 2) and official record(s) must be sent directly from the school to:

      New York State Education Department
      Office of the Professions
      Division of Professional Licensing Services
      Ophthalmic Dispensing Unit
      89 Washington Avenue
      Albany, New York 12234-1000

      OR

    2. Satisfactory completion of a two-year (24 month) training program in ophthalmic dispensing approved by the Department. You must obtain a trainee permit (see Applying for a Trainee Permit in Ophthalmic Dispensing and/or Contact Lens Dispensing section of this packet for detailed information) and your training must be completed under the supervision of a licensed ophthalmic dispenser, optometrist, or physician. Your supervisor(s) must submit a Certification of Trainee Experience in Ophthalmic Dispensing and/or Contact Lens Dispensing (Form 4), with their signature(s) certifying 24 months with at least 2,400 clock hours of approved training. In addition, you must submit a certificate documenting satisfactory completion of the National Academy of Opticianry's Career Progression Program. For details about the Career Progression Program certificate, please contact:

      National Academy of Opticianry
      8401 Corporate Drive, Suite 605
      Landover, MD 20785
      Phone 301-577-4828 or 800-229-4828
      Fax 301-577-3880
      Web www.nao.org External Link Icon

      If you completed an out-of-state on-the-job training experience under the supervision of a licensed ophthalmic dispenser, physician, or optometrist, you may have your experience evaluated by the State Board for Ophthalmic Dispensing to determine if it meets the two years of supervised training required by Section 7124(a)(2) of Education Law. A letter of experience must be submitted directly to the Board from your supervisor(s) detailing the time and extent of experience received in fitting and adjusting lenses, verification and interpretation of prescriptions, and other aspects of the practice of ophthalmic dispensing. You must also submit a certificate from the National Academy of Opticianry documenting completion of the Career Progression Program. For details about the Career Progression Program certificate, contact the National Academy of Opticianry at the address listed above.

      In addition, you must ask your high school to send a copy of your high school transcript documenting completion of one year of mathematics such as algebra or geometry directly to the Department.

Certification in contact lens dispensing

Certification as a contact lens dispenser can only occur at the same time as licensure as an ophthalmic dispenser or thereafter.

If you are applying for certification as a contact lens dispenser, you must present evidence of either 1 or 2 below.

  1. Satisfactory completion of a two-year collegiate ophthalmic dispensing program registered by the New York State Education Department as licensure qualifying, or the equivalent as determined by the Department. If you are a graduate of either a New York State licensure qualifying ophthalmic dispensing program or a nationally accredited ophthalmic dispensing program, and have already filed a Certification of Professional Education (Form 2) with the Department, no additional proof of education is required.

    OR

  2. Satisfactory completion of a one-year (12-month) training program in contact lens dispensing approved by the Department. You must obtain a trainee permit (see Applying for a Trainee Permit in Ophthalmic Dispensing and/or Contact Lens Dispensing section of this packet for detailed information) and your training must be completed under the supervision of a licensed optometrist, physician, or ophthalmic dispenser certified to fit contact lenses. Your supervisor(s) must submit a Certification of Trainee Experience in Ophthalmic Dispensing and/or Contact Lens Dispensing (Form 4), with their signature(s) certifying 12 months with at least 1,200 clock hours of approved training. In addition, you must submit a certificate documenting satisfactory completion of the Contact Lens Society of America's Contact Lens Study Manual. For details about the Contact Lens Study Manual, please contact:

    Contact Lens Society of America
    441 Carlisle Drive
    Herndon, Virginia 20170
    Phone 703-437-5100 or 800-296-9776
    Fax 703-437-0727
    Web www.clsa.info External Link Icon


Examination Requirements

Ophthalmic Dispensing

Two examinations are required for licensure in ophthalmic dispensing - a written examination and a practical examination.

  1. Written Examination

    The American Board of Opticianry's (ABO) National Opticianry Competency Examination, or an examination determined by the Department to be comparable in content, is required for ophthalmic dispensing licensure. If you took the ABO examination before November 1988, you must repeat the examination and receive a passing score. The examination is offered in May and November. It is your responsibility to see that the ABO forwards your passing score on the ABO examination to the Department. For details regarding the ABO examination, including costs, registration, and specific dates of administration, contact:

    American Board of Opticianry
    National Contact Lens Examiners
    6506 Loisdale Rd.
    Suite 209
    Springfield, VA 22150
    Phone 800-296-1379 or 703-719-5800
    Fax 703-719-9144
    Web www.abo-ncle.org External Link Icon

  2. Practical Examination

    To take the New York State Basic Ophthalmic Dispensing practical examination, you must file an application for licensure, attain a passing score on the ABO written examination, and be approved for admission to the examination by the New York State Education Department. The Department contracts with Capitol Hill Testing Service (CHTS), a professional test administration service, to administer the ophthalmic dispensing practical licensure examination. The examination is offered twice a year. For details regarding the New York State Basic Ophthalmic Dispensing practical examination, including costs and specific dates of administration, contact:

    Capitol Hill Testing Service
    1450 Western Avenue
    Suite 101
    Albany, New York 12203
    Phone 800-724-8633 or 518-462-6805

Contact Lens Dispensing

Two examinations are required for certification as a contact lens dispenser - a written examination and a practical examination.

  1. Written Examination

    The National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry Examination, or an examination determined by the Department to be comparable in content, is required for contact lens dispensing certification. If you took the NCLE examination before November 1988, you must repeat the examination and receive a passing score. This examination is offered in May and November. It your responsibility to see that NCLE forwards your passing score on the NCLE examination to the Department. For details regarding the NCLE examination, including costs, registration, and specific dates of administration, contact:

    American Board of Opticianry
    National Contact Lens Examiners
    6506 Loisdale Rd.
    Suite 209
    Springfield, VA 22150
    Phone 800-296-1379 or 703-719-5800
    Fax 703-719-9144
    Web www.abo-ncle.org External Link Icon

  2. Practical Examination

    To take the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination, you must either be licensed in New York State as an ophthalmic dispenser or file an Application for Licensure (Form 1) to obtain approval for admission to the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination by the New York State Education Department.

    If you are licensed in New York State as an ophthalmic dispenser and have met the contact lens education requirement outlined above, you only need to submit a written request to sit for the examination to the Department. Your request must include the date you passed the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) Contact Lens Registry Examination.

    The Department contracts with Capitol Hill Testing Service (CHTS), a professional test administration service, to administer the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination. The examination is offered once a year. For details regarding the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination, including costs and specific dates of administration, contact:

    Capitol Hill Testing Service
    1450 Western Avenue
    Suite 101
    Albany, New York 12203
    Phone 800-724-8633 or 518-462-6805

Reasonable Testing Accommodations

If you have a disability and require reasonable testing accommodations for the practical examinations, you must complete and submit a Request for Reasonable Testing Accommodations form ( PDF 23 KB). The Request for Reasonable Testing Accommodations Form must be submitted to the address provided on the Form along with your documentation as described on the Form. You may not sit for the examination with reasonable accommodations until your Request Form and documentation have been approved by the Professional Examinations Unit in the Office of the Professions. You may direct any questions to the Professional Examinations Unit through the contact information provided on the Form.


Applicants Licensed In Another State

Endorsement, often referred to as reciprocity, is not available in New York for the profession of ophthalmic dispensing. Applicants licensed or certified in another state or United States territory seeking licensure or certification in New York must submit an Application for Licensure (Form 1), fee, Certification of Professional Education (Form 2), Verification of Ophthalmic Dispensing Licensure in Another Jurisdiction (Form 3), and examination scores.


Limited Permits

Limited permits to practice ophthalmic dispensing and/or contact lens dispensing may be issued to individuals who meet all requirements for admission to the New York State Basic Ophthalmic Dispensing Practical Examination and/or the New York State Contact Lens Practical Certification Examination. That is, limited permits may be issued to individuals who have met the education or training and experience requirements and have passed the American Board of Opticianry and/or the National Contact Lens Examiners written examinations.

Limited permits cannot be issued to applicants who have failed the practical examination.

You may apply for a limited permit (Form 5) at the same time or any time after you submit your Application for Licensure (Form 1), initial licensure fee of $108, evidence of satisfactory education, and limited permit fee of $35. The limited permit cannot be issued until the Department has approved your education and received documentation of your successful completion of the appropriate written examination.

You may practice under a limited permit only under the supervision of a licensed physician, optometrist, or ophthalmic dispenser. The supervision must be on-site supervision but not necessarily direct personal supervision.

The limited permit is issued for two years. Limited permits expire when applicants who pass the examination receive their license or ten (10) days after applicants are notified that they were unsuccessful on the practical licensing examination. A limited permit can be renewed for one additional year if the applicant did not fail the examination or was not denied licensure. To renew a limited permit, a new Form 5 and fee of $35 must be submitted. If the practice site or supervisor changes, the permittee must reapply for a new limited permit by submitting a new Form 5. No additional fee is required for practice site or supervisor changes.

If you are licensed as an ophthalmic dispenser based on professional education, you can apply for a two-year limited permit to practice contact lens dispensing.

If you are licensed as an ophthalmic dispenser based on training experience, you must apply for a contact lens dispensing trainee permit.

Last Updated: October 2, 2014