Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board

Important Information - May 2016

Covered below:

  • Board appointments update
  • 2016/17 renewals
  • Oral medicine guidelines
  • Outcome of Board fees consultation
  • Guidance on ethical practice when referring
  • Ganciclovir
  • Parental leave
  • Practising legally within the optical dispensing scope of practice 
  • Keep your details up-to-date with the Board
  • Feedback welcomed


Board appointments update

The Board is pleased to confirm that at its meeting held on 12 February 2016, Board Member, Damian Koppens, was re-elected as Chair of the Board, and Board Member, Jennifer Craig, was elected as Deputy Chair of the Board.

Profiles on each of the members of the Board can be found on the ‘About the Board’ page of the Board’s website located at www.odob.health.nz. Alternatively, you can click here to be taken directly to this page.


2016/17 renewals

The 2016/17 online renewals season closed on the 31st of March 2016, with almost all practitioners renewing before the deadline. The Board’s office received a lot of positive feedback on peoples’ experience of the second year of online renewals and the Board is very pleased with how the new process is going. Having the process online cuts down on mailing costs, ensures practitioners can renew right up until the very last minute on the 31st of March, and shortens the process of actually renewing.

Anyone who has not yet received their renewed certificate in the mail should contact the Deputy Registrar on 04 474 0704 to verify the address that it has been sent to.


Oral medicine guidelines

The Board has developed guidelines for TPA optometrists on:

  • Allergic Eye Disease – click here to view this document
  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Keratitis – click here to view this document
  • Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus – click here to view this document
These guidelines are now available on the ‘TPA Prescribing’ page of the Board’s website. Additional guideline documents will be available soon. These guideline documents are not exhaustive and should be considered ‘living’ documents that will be added to over time.


Outcome of Board fees consultation

The Board received two submissions on the Boards consultation on a proposal to amend fees for the 2016/17 practising year. One submission was from the Association of Dispensing Opticians of New Zealand (ADONZ) and one was from an individual practitioner. A summary of the main points of submission can be viewed by clicking here.

After reviewing the feedback received, the Board further considered its proposal and resolved to confirm its proposal to reduce the optometrists practising fee, increase the dispensing opticians practising fee, and introduce a CPD accreditation fee for activities not open to all registrants. The fee changes were published in the New Zealand Gazette on 14 January 2016 and can be viewed by clicking here.


Guidance on ethical practice when referring

Some of you may recall that in December 2011, the Board published an item on ethical practice when referring. This issue has recently come to the Board’s attention again, so the Board would like to remind practitioners of the importance of having transparent referral systems. There is a particular risk of a breach of the Board’s Standards of Ethical Conduct if an optometrist is being reimbursed by an ophthalmologist at a rate which is higher than the optometrist's usual fee. 

Optometrists referring to an organisation that provides for reimbursement (or using any other system that may be perceived to constitute an interest of the optometrist), should advise their patients of the arrangement, offer them an alternative option, and advise them of the clinical reasons for the recommendation as to whom the patient should attend. The Board considers that this open disclosure will ensure that patients are able to make an informed decision about which ophthalmologist they wish to be referred to.

To view the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Optometrists, click here.

To view the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Dispensing Opticians, click here.



Zovirax eye ointment has been unavailable since November 2014 due to an international recall and currently there is no alternative formulation of Acyclovir eye ointment available in New Zealand. While Ganciclovir is a good alternative, Ganciclovir is a Section 29 medication that may only be prescribed by a medical practitioner, so until the supply of Acyclovir is re-instated in New Zealand, all patients requiring treatment of herpetic eye disease will need to be referred to their GP or ophthalmologist. The Board understands that ViruPos eye ointment (Acyclovir 3%) may be available from August 2016.


Parental leave

If you are registered with the Board and taking parental leave part-way through the practising year, please ensure that prior to doing so you contact the Board for advice on what steps you may need to take with regard to your practising status with the Board.

If you are on parental leave you are not practising and should, therefore, change your status on the Register to ‘Non-practising’. This will minimise the risk that members of the public will be misled regarding your current status and will also prevent your name from being selected for audit. 

You are not required to record CPD while holding a non-practising status with the Board; however, depending on the length of time you may be away from practice, the Board does encourage you to keep up to date. In addition, to make returning to practise in the future more straightforward, if at all possible, you should ensure that your CPD is up to date at the time you go on leave.

One of the steps the Board will discuss with you when you contact us about parental leave is making sure that your practice is made aware that any communication they issue about you, or any information that may be on the practice’s website about you, needs to clearly indicate that you are on leave and are not currently practising. It is a serious offence under the HPCA Act to state or do anything that may be calculated to suggest that you practise, or are willing to practise, unless you are the holder of a current practising certificate issued by the Board.

You should also contact the Association when going on parental leave, so they can note their CPD records and pro rata any CPD points as appropriate for the current recertification cycle. Failure to contact the Board about any period of non-practice will result in the full CPD quota being required during this period.

When returning from parental leave during a practising year, contact the Board’s office for information on how to change your status back to ‘practising’.


Practising legally within the optical dispensing scope of practice

In accordance with the HPCA Act, the Board sets the scope of practice for dispensing opticians and prescribes the qualifications required for entry to the scope. In addition, the Board sets the standards of clinical and cultural competence and ethical conduct required of dispensing opticians. These standards and the scope of practice set by the Board can all be found on the Board’s website located at www.odob.health.nz.

Section 9 of the HPCA Act allows for specified activities to be restricted to registered health practitioners, in order to protect members of the public from the risk of serious or permanent harm. Currently in New Zealand, no specified activities associated with optical dispensing have been set as restricted.  This means that, legally, the activities associated with optical dispensing are not limited to practitioners registered under the HPCA Act and any person may, technically, perform these. However, what is restricted in New Zealand under the HPCA Act, is the use of names, words, titles, initials, abbreviations, or descriptions stating or implying that a person is a health practitioner of a particular kind (e.g. a ‘Dispensing Optician’) if the person is not registered as a health practitioner of that kind.

The distinction to be made here, and of which a few Dispensing Opticians have fallen foul of, is between those who are registered and those who are not. If registered with the Board, a practitioner must use the title under which they are registered, and if practising, must ensure they have a current practising certificate. It is an offence under the HPCA Act for a registered health practitioner to practise, even for one day, within their scope of practice without a current practising certificate.

A registered health practitioner may not, under any circumstances, perform any of the tasks associated with their scope of practice without first applying for and being granted a practising certificate by the Board. Performing tasks that fall within the scope of practice set by the Board without a valid practising certificate and using an alternate title is not an option for a registered health practitioner. This is illegal. If a practitioner wishes to perform the tasks associated with optical dispensing under a different title, they must first apply to the Board in writing to have their name removed from the Register.

If you think you may have previously misunderstood any of the above and may be inadvertently practising illegally, please contact the Board’s Registrar immediately on 04 474 0705 to receive advice on what to do to promptly apply for a practising certificate and remedy this situation.


Keep your details up-to-date with the Board

It is important to keep the Board updated as to your current contact information. In the case of work, residential, and postal addresses, this is a legal requirement. If your address, phone, email or other contact details may need updating with us, please send an email detailing the changes to Annette.McCoy@odob.health.nz. 

Feedback welcomed

The Board welcomes feedback and enquiries on its standards, policies and processes at any time. If you would like to make an enquiry or submit feedback, please feel free to email the Board’s Registrar, Lindsey Pine, at Lindsey.Pine@odob.health.nz at any time.


Contact Us

Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board

Level 5, 22 Willeston Street,
Wellington 6011
PO Box 9644, Wellington 6141
Tel: +64 4 474 0705, Fax +64 4 474 0709

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