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New Jersey State Board of Optometrists v. Koenigsberg

Decided: December 23, 1954.


Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D.


Appellant was found guilty of practicing optometry without a license in violation of R.S. 45:12-1, 19, as am. L. 1948, c. 350. She appeals, admitting the absence of a license, but contending that the acts or practices in which she engaged are not covered by the statute.

The record discloses that Dr. John J. Brown, a representative of the State Board of Optometrists, visited the office of the defendant, which is located in her home in Bergen County. Without disclosing his real identity, he complained of being nearsighted and wanted to know if she could do anything to avoid the need for glasses. She then inquired as to his general health, the length of time he had been wearing glasses, whether he suffered from headaches or wore sun glasses and if strong light bothered his eyes. He responded that he had been wearing glasses for 25 years during which period the lenses had been changed on 10 or 12 occasions.

Defendant then engaged in an eye examination by the use of (a) a cardboard chart designated "Your Chart" which contained several sentences consisting of words of varying size letters. Dr. Brown and an expert witness called by the board, described this card as a form of Snellen chart commonly used by optometrists and ophthalmologists for the purpose of examining eyes and measuring vision; (b) a septum apparatus consisting of a wooden board about three

feet long and five inches wide on which two letter "L"s had been placed at a point where each one would be in front of one of the subject's eyes. This instrument was placed about 13 inches away from his eyes and he was asked if the two L's combined to form one; (c) a pair of multiple pinhole spectacles made of a plastic frame mounted with opaque black fiber discs instead of lenses, each disc containing numerous apertures, pinhole in size. With these spectacles on, he was asked to look again at the chart, which was held eight feet away. When he advised defendant that he was then able to see the letters thereon she said it indicated the amount of vision he would be able to attain by completing her course of "training"; (d) a shallow wooden, rectangular box containing plastic tiles, each bearing a letter of the alphabet. After this was placed in front of Dr. Brown, he was told to pick up a tile, look at the letter on it and then inform the defendant where that letter appeared on a chart located on an easel about eight feet from his eyes.

At the conclusion of this examination, Miss Koenigsberg advised Dr. Brown that he was myopic and that his fusion ability was poor. She gave him a "lesson" in accordance with a printed form which was introduced in evidence. This document outlined a rather elaborate and detailed series of eye exercises and concludes with the statement: "These relaxation techniques though simple, are prime essentials in obtaining mobility of sight."

The fee for the examination was $10. The expert optometrist called by the board testified that in using the instruments described, the defendant had examined Dr. Brown's eyes within the contemplation of his profession.

The trial court found that the examination of Dr. Brown's eyes and the measurement of his powers of vision were performed for the purpose of testing his visual habits, ultimately improving them and lessening, if not entirely eliminating, the need for eye glasses. It was further found that defendant's purpose was not to adapt lenses or prisms for the aid of his vision. However, she was declared guilty of practicing optometry within the meaning of R.S. 45:12-1, as

am. L. 1948, c. 350, in that she did examine the eyes of Dr. Brown and did use certain means for the measurement of his "powers of vision."

Appellant's position can be concisely stated. She contends that, under the statutory definition, no person can be convicted of practicing optometry unless in addition to examination of the eyes there is an undertaking to adapt "lenses or prisms" for the relief of any deficiency revealed thereby.

Obviously, there can no longer be any controversy about the legal propriety of requiring a license to practice optometry or of prescribing reasonable regulations for the practice of that statutory profession. New Jersey State Board of Optometrists v. S.S. Kresge Co. , 113 N.J.L. 287 (Sup. Ct. 1934), modified 115 N.J.L. 495 (E. & A. 1935); Abelson's, Inc., v. New Jersey State Board of Optometrists , 5 N.J. 412 (1950). It follows also that the field of regulation is circumscribed by the legislative ...

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