A peek inside SAIT's new vision care sciences programs

Optician eye device

Photos by Harder Lee Photography

Eye problems are increasing as people spend more time in front of screens, yet Alberta’s vision care industry anticipates many opticians will retire before 2025. So SAIT has launched two vision care sciences programs including a one-year Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting Certificate that’s unique in Canada.

“There is much overlap between ophthalmology and optometry that we’ve combined the two professions into one program,” says Shay Gornshtein, Acting Academic Chair, Vision Care Sciences with the School of Health and Public Safety. “This approach provides well-rounded training in supporting eye care practitioners. Students develop specialized knowledge in ophthalmic and optometric clinical procedures, and gain real versatility in their career choice.”

Another one-of-a-kind factor: SAIT’s program includes both opticians and optometrists as instructors.

Tech on campus

Optician equipment


SAIT invested $1 million in its vision care clinic, with full outfitted lab and classroom spaces recreating professional eye care offices.


This highly accurate corneal typographer can perform four different computer-aided diagnostic imaging tests.

Optician equipment


Each scan measures information from 9.600 data points and can capture still images and video at the same time.

Less than 2

The average human hair is 75 microns; this instrument boasts a standard deviation of error of less than two microns.

Optician equipment


Ophthalmic = eye health Optometric = vision care


Before even touching this gold-standard equipment, students first gain virtual experience through 3D simulation developed by SAIT's own Centre for Applied Education Innovation.


Vision care programming and lab space is supported by generous donors and partners including Nikon Optical Canada, HOYA Vision Care Canada, BC College of Optics, Clearly, Visual Eyes and Bailey Nelson.

A peek inside the classroom

Harder Lee Photography takes us inside the classroom to see the students putting their skills to practise. 

Optician students in lab
Optician lab door
Optician student with mask on
Optician students with masks on in classroom
Patient getting eyes checked

This piece was originally created for the print version of the Spring 2021 issue of LINK — Raw, risky and full of joy.

a view of the moutains and stream in between

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit'ada, Tawnshi, Hello.

SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.