Consumer Complaint Information
The California State Board of Optometry (Board), is part of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and conducts disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, Government Code Section 11370, and those sections that follow.
The Board of Optometry conducts investigations and hearings pursuant to Government Code Sections 11180 through 11191.
The following information is intended to inform consumers about:
- the procedure for filing a complaint against an optometrist;
- the Board's process for reviewing and investigating complaints; and
- the types of disciplinary actions and dispositions available to the Board.
Procedure For Filing A Complaint Against An Optometrist
You may file a complaint against an optometrist by:
- downloading and completing the complaint form and mailing to the address specified;
- filing your complaint on-line at https://www.breeze.ca.gov.
If your complaint is against an optical business or an ophthalmologist, you should contact the Medical Board of California at 800-633-2322.
Anyone who believes an optometrist engages in unprofessional conduct related to their professional responsibilities should file a complaint. The Board reviews each complaint, regardless of the source. Complaints must be submitted in writing. The most effective complaints are those containing firsthand, verifiable information.
Anonymous complaints will be reviewed; however, they may be impossible to pursue unless they contain documented evidence of the allegations. Third-party complaints filed by someone other than the patient may prove impossible for the Board to pursue because each patient has the legal right to confidentiality of their medical records.
Unless all persons are willing to be contacted, and to provide authorizations for release of information, the Board may be unable to investigate and prosecute a complaint. The Board notifies consumers in writing about the status of their complaints, or any actions taken.
When filing, please explain clearly the nature of your complaint. Include as many details and as much documentary evidence as possible, for example, bills, statements, cancelled checks, insurance reimbursement statements, correspondence and court documents.
Whenever possible, please include the name, address and phone number of any witness or person who can corroborate issues or events described in your complaint, as well as dates, times and locations of occurrences. It is unnecessary to refer to specific sections of law that may have been violated. The emphasis should be on details, rather than conclusions.
If you have seen other health care providers, subsequent to being treated by the subject of your complaint, please complete, sign and submit the following forms:
- Supplemental Complaint Information
- Authorization for Release of Optometric/Medical Records
The release form authorizes the licensee to respond to Board inquiries concerning the complaint, and to share confidential information about the complainant or patient. Failure to provide a signed release precludes the Board from contacting the licensee. A release must be completed for each optometrist, ophthalmologist, healthcare provider, hospital and insurance company.
The complaint form may be obtained by calling 866-585-2666. Mail the completed form and supporting documents to the California Board of Optometry, 2450 Del Paso Road, Suite 105, Sacramento, CA 95834.
Board's Process For Reviewing and Investigating Complaints
After receiving a complaint, the Board notifies the optometrist, requests permission to review the patient's file and contacts the patient to resolve the complaint. If it appears that a violation of the Optometry Practice Act has occurred, the Board may open an investigation to verify facts and gather necessary evidence for the Attorney General's review, and possible initiation of legal proceedings.
If the facts surrounding a complaint do not justify legal action, the Board may refer the complaint to another jurisdictional agency that will provide the most effective means of securing relief.
The Board has no statutory authority to set or modify fees charged by licensed optometrists or to compel refunds, so complaints with unresolved fee disputes may be referred to Small Claims Court.
Types of Disciplinary Actions and Dispositions Available to the Board
The purposes of the disciplinary process are to:
- ensure quality optometric care for consumers; and
- preserve high standards of practice in the state of California.
Through the Board's enforcement staff, DC's Division of Investigation (DOI) and the Office of the Attorney General (AG), the Board takes appropriate action against optometrists who, through their conduct, expose themselves to disciplinary action.
The Board's enforcement staff reviews all complaints. If proven to constitute grounds for disciplinary action, complaints containing allegations may be sent to DOI for investigation.
If an investigation confirms the alleged misconduct, the Board may submit the matter to the AG's Office to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to pursue disciplinary action against the subject. If it is determined sufficient evidence exists, the Board prepares an accusation and serves the subject, who may request a hearing to contest the charges.
Acts subject to disciplinary action - such as revocation, suspension or probationary status of a license - include, but are not limited to, unprofessional conduct, sexual misconduct, gross negligence, conviction of a substantially related crime, substance abuse and insurance fraud.
After the Board files an accusation, the case may be resolved by a stipulated settlement, which is a written agreement between parties to which the person charged admits to certain violations and agrees that a particular disciplinary order may be imposed.
Stipulations are subject to adoption by the Board. If a stipulated settlement cannot be negotiated, the Board holds a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings. After the hearing, the judge issues a proposed decision, submitted to the Board for adoption as its decision in the matter.
If the Board does not adopt the proposed decision, Board members obtain a transcript of the hearing, review the decision and decide the matter based upon the administrative record. The respondent may petition for reconsideration if dissatisfied or file a writ of mandate in the appropriate superior court to contest the decision.
If a case goes to hearing, the disciplinary process generally takes two years, from receipt of the complaint until a final decision is rendered. Accusations and final decisions of cases are matters of public record. As such, they are available from the Board.
Where to Submit Comments, Complaints, or Suggestion About the Board
Submit comments, complaints or suggestions about the Board at