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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: At what age should my child have their eyes examined?

A: It is recommended to book your child's first eye exam as early as 6 months of age. Vision tests for children are performed in an age appropriate fashion and some simple tests can be performed as early as 6 months of age.  A more comprehensive evaluation is then done at 3 years. Different types of targets, shapes, numbers and letters are used to determine a child’s visual acuity (ability to see over various distances), peripheral vision and to determine how the eyes team, focus and move together. Various methods, which at times include eye drops and the use of specialized equipment are used to assess the external and internal eye health and uncover potential disorders. 

Q: Is my eye exam covered by OHIP?

A: OHIP covers the yearly examination for children 19 years of age or younger and for seniors 65 years of age or older.  Certain patients between the ages of 20 and 64 are eligible for OHIP coverage when there are underlying medical conditions or eye conditions that require yearly examinations.   Some specialized tests may not be covered by OHIP.  These tests will be billed directly to you. 

OHIP does not cover contact lens fittings or contact lens assessments, which are required for contact lens wearing patients.

Q: What is the difference between an optometrist, ophthalmologist, and optician?

A: OPTOMETRIST:

Optometrists are your primary care eye doctors. Doctors of optometry are trained to provide the best standards of comprehensive eye care, ranging from an assessment and review of overall eye health and visual function to providing a prescription for eyeglasses aor referring for secondary treatment by an ophthalmologist with surgery or drugs.  Optometrists are your frontline care providers in eye health.

OPHTHALMOLOGIST:

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have completed specialized residency in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of eye disease.  They are secondary-level health care providers and they usually use drugs and/or surgery for treatment. A person that requires ophthalmological care (cataract surgery, for example) would usually require a referral from the optometrist or family doctor.

OPTICIANS:

Opticians are trained through a college program to fabricate and fit vision aids on the prescription of an optometrist or physician.  Opticians are licensed to provide spectacles, and they may also dispense contact lenses and other optical aids. They do not assess, diagnose, or treat eye conditions, nor do they determine the prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Q: What is the "Eye See...Eye Learn" program?

A: Children rarely complain of vision problems, or are even aware of them. Most children believe everyone sees the world as they do. 

The Eye See…Eye Learn program was developed to raise awareness among parents of the importance of having their children’s eyes checked before starting grade one. The program encourages families of Junior Kindergarten children in participating school regions to have a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist. The eye exam is covered by OHIP (your child’s health card). If the child requires glasses, they will receive one pair free of charge.

Children, who cannot see the board, focus on a picture or follow words in a book may struggle to achieve their full learning potential. Vision problems can also impact their hand-eye coordination for physical activities and even impact their social development.  In fact, 80 percent of learning comes directly through vision. 

The Ontario Association of Optometrists recognizes the important link between eye health and learning, and recommends comprehensive eye examinations for all children entering kindergarten. The Eye See…Eye Learn program will help make sure our kindergarten students get the best start to learning.

Q: If I don't wear my glasses will my vision get worse?

A: This depends on your age and the nature of your prescription. The majority of visual development occurs within the first decade of life; a time during which neural connections form between the eye and the brain. If one or both eyes lack the proper visual stimulation during early development, then central vision will not fully develop. This condition is called AMBLYOPIA. It is for this reason your optometrist recommends that you book your child’s first eye examination at six months of age, at age 3, and then annually thereafter. Because of the critical development that occurs throughout these early years of life, children who do not wear the glasses prescribed by their optometrist may not develop to their full vision potential.

Concerning adult prescriptions, wearing of spectacle lenses will not make your vision worse or damage your eyes in any way. Unless you are near-sighted and remove your glasses for reading, most adults over 40 years of age will become increasingly dependent on reading glasses. This is not due to the glasses “weakening” your eyes but instead, it is due to the natural aging changes of the crystalline lenses within your eyes. (PRESBYOPIA). Whether you wear glasses or not, your vision will gradually deteriorate over your lifetime. By wearing the spectacle lenses prescribed by your optometrist, you will enjoy increased comfort and clarity of vision at all distances.

Q: Why should I have a retinal scan?

A: The practice of optometry is changing with the advent of newer and more advanced technologies to diagnose and monitor the health of the eye.  Retinal photographs are recommended by your eye doctor to assist in documenting and monitoring the intricate details in the back of your eye.  The scan provides a wonderful baseline that is kept on file and can be used for comparison in the future. Certain conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes, and macular degeneration are very difficult to diagnose and require careful monitoring over time to assess for subtle changes. Retinal photographs are also crucial to accurately document the size and degree of any unusual findings in your eye such as retinal nevi (moles) and spots caused by macular degeneration.

Q: Why do I need to have my contact lenses checked when I have been wearing them for years?

A: Contact lenses are a medical device.  They are available by prescription only.  In order to ensure that the contact lenses are not damaging the tissues of your eye, it is of utmost importance to have your contact lenses assessed every year or as determined by your eye doctor.  Contact lenses can desensitize your eye to pain and irritation.  If this happens it is possible for tissue inflammation to begin and you may not have any signs or symptoms. Consequently, you may not come into the clinic until you have advanced complications.  The longer the condition is undiagnosed and untreated, the longer it takes to heal. Only a thorough, regular, comprehensive examination by your eye doctor can determine if the contacts you are wearing are suitable.  Routine assessments are also beneficial in that your doctor can have the opportunity to discuss advances in contact lens technologies as well as to reassess your lifestyle and contact lens wearing habits to ensure your contact lens regime is still suitable.

Q: What is 20/20 vision?

A: This is a ratio used to indicate normal visual acuity.  It means that people with ‘normal vision’ on the acuity chart are able to see a certain size of detail at 20 feet.  That detail is calibrated to be the same size in all eye examinations so that visual acuity can be standardized when tested between different offices. The detail viewed could be letters, pictures or numbers.
Some people have better than normal vision and some have weaker than normal vision.  The top number in the ratio indicates the test distance (20 feet) for which the target is calibrated.  The bottom number of the ratio indicates the distance at which a person with normal (20/20 vision) would be able to see that size of target.  For example if a person has poorer than normal visual acuity, say 20/400, it would mean that the size of the target that this person sees at 20 feet would actually be recognized by the person with 20/20 vision at 400 feet.  Conversely, a person with better than 20/20 visual acuity, say 20/15, would be able to see the details at 20 feet that a person with 20/20 vision would have to bring closer to recognize.

Q: How come my eyes get tired at the computer?

A: Being far or near-sighted, having astigmatism, or becoming presbyopic can all make computer use less comfortable. Your eyes may have to exert extra focusing effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image on the screen. This results in eyestrain and fatigue. The following are some helpful tips to facilitate comfortable and efficient computer use: 

Positioning
Correct positioning of your computer, keyboard, and typing copy is essential. Your screen should be about an arm’s length from your eyes and 15-20 degrees below eye level for optimum alignment and neck positioning.

Lighting

Room lighting should be diffuse, not direct, to reduce glare and reflections from your screen. Use blinds or drapes on windows and/or use an anti-glare filter for your monitor.

Glasses
Anti-reflective coatings on the lenses of your glasses can be applied to reduce discomfort and to ease reduced vision from bright and/or flickering light sources such as VDTs and fluorescent lights. Don’t forget – your optometrist can talk to you about eyeglasses designed specifically for computer users.

Time-out
To prevent eyestrain, try to rest your eyes when using the computer for long periods. Optometrists recommend the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and focus your eyes on an object at least 20 feet away.
 

Blink
Did you know that, on average, we blink 12 times per minute? But, when we are on the computer, we only blink 5 times per minute? Infrequent blinking causes tear film evaporation; in other words, dry eyes. Relieve the discomfort by using artificial tear drops and remember to blink!

Q: Should I bring my eyeglasses to my appointment?

A: It is advisable to bring your eyeglasses with you when you have your eye examination.  This will allow checking of your old prescription against your new prescription.  Even if there is no change in your prescription, it is also good for your eye doctor to assess the lenses for scratches or defects and to ensure that the frame is still fitting properly so that you have maximum benefit from your spectacles.  Also, bring your spectacles to your contact lenses re-assessments.  Sometimes dyes have to be put into the eyes that can stain your contact lenses so it may be necessary to wear your spectacles home.

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