Myths and Facts
Chan Optometry conducts eye exams and offers optometry services that includes laser eye surgery, contact lenses, ortho k lenses, cataract treatment across Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Stouffville, New Market, North York and Scarborough.
1. Opto….ophthal…..what’s the difference between all you eye guys?
Good question. There are 3 eye guys: the optician, the optometrist, and the ophthalmologist. Here’s my way of thinking of it: the harder it is to say (or spell), the more education they have received. Each one is essential in your overall ocular health in their own right:
The Optician: They complete a two-four year college degree and hold an opticianry licence. You can think of them as the blacksmiths of the eye industry. Opticians sell glasses and contact lenses and adjust and measure them so they fit perfectly on your face. Chances are, if you happen to sleep on, step on, or somehow manage to drive over your glasses, your optician can help you repair or replace them.
The Optometrist: That’s me. An optometrist is your primary eye care provider. Think of me like the family doctor of eyes. Optometrists complete a 3 or 4 year undergraduate program at an accredited university, then undertake a 4 year optometry doctorate degree. In addition to performing the functions of an optician, we are responsible for taking a full look at your ocular health each and every time you come in for an eye examination. We can diagnose, treat and manage eye conditions and diseases, and, if need be, prescribe medications. Optometrists are also responsible for testing your eyes and updating your prescriptions for glasses or contacts.
The Ophthalmologist: These guys have to do a 3-4 year undergraduate program, complete medical school and then specialize in ophthalmology. Many then go on to further specialize in one aspect of the eye or eye disease. They really know their stuff. These are the people that perform surgeries (including laser) and patients are referred to them when they are in need of a second opinion or require specialized treatment.
2. Why do I have to have eyedrops during my exam? What are they for?
There are actually a couple of eye drops we use for diagnosing eye conditions or diseases. The first one is a yellow eye drop that’s used to check the eye pressure in your eye. Think of your eye like a balloon: too much air in the balloon is not a good thing! Increased eye pressure is a major factor in a disease that we call glaucoma. The second eye drop is used for dilating the eyes. It opens up the pupil (the black hole everyone has in the middle of your eye) and allows optometrists to see much more clearly into the back part of the eye. We can then better diagnose diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachments.
These eyedrops make your vision blurry for a couple of hours after you receive them. Unless you’re naturally near-sighted, looking at your phone, Ipad, tablet, computer or newspaper will be much tougher than usual. They can also make your eyes sensitive to light, so bringing along a good pair of sunglasses is recommended – even if it’s cloudy!
2a) But I drove here! Can I drive back with these drops in?
The blurriness in your distance vision is usually less significant than your near-field vision. Regardless, I typically suggest you bring someone to drive you (and then treat them – and your favourite optometrist – to lunch/dinner/coffee to say thanks!). If this isn’t an option, we can arrange for you to come back at your earliest convenience and put the drops in then. Otherwise, I say hang out after the examination until you feel able to drive. In the end, your safety is our main concern: if things are still blurry, do not drive!
2b) Does everyone have to have these eye drops put in at every visit?
That depends. Typically, I like to put eye drops in everyone’s eyes since it helps me to take a much more thorough view of the inside of your eyes. That being said, the necessity depends on your age, your prescription, your eye and family history, and of course, your medical conditions.
3. How often should I get my eyes checked?
The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends the following:
6 months of age: 1st eye exam
2 – 5 years old: 2nd eye exam
5 – 20 years old: annual eye exams
20 – 64 years old: every 1 – 2 years
65 years old and older: annual eye exams
Understandably, it’s a little confusing; however, we use what’s called evidenced-based data to recommend these guidelines. Essentially that means that based on studies, these guidelines are the most practical for both you as a patient and me as an optometric practitioner to ensure that your eyes stay healthy. This schedule may be altered depending on your medication conditions, prescriptions, history etc.
4. So…am I covered under OHIP or what?
According to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, these following people are covered under OHIP for a full comprehensive eye examination once every 12 months:
- People 65 years and older
- People 19 years old and younger
- People 20 – 64 with certain medical conditions
Those conditions include: diabetes mellitus, glaucoma, cataract, retinal disease, amblyopia, visual field defects, corneal disease, strabismus, recurrent uveitis, or optic pathway disease.
Also, following people are covered under OHIP for a full comprehensive eye examination once every 24 months:
- People covered under Ontario Works
- People covered under Ontario Disability Support Program
Click the link above if you need additional information.
5. Do glasses make my eyes worse?
Nope. That’s a myth that the eye care industry just can’t seem to bust! To my knowledge, no study has ever shown that wearing glasses will make your eyes worse. Or, conversely, that not wearing glasses can make your eyes better.
6. Can you prescribe medications?
In April 2011 the Ontario Government passed legislation which allows optometrists to receive Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agent (TPA) certification. You can take a look at the press release. If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, you can look here. Most optometrists, like myself, are TPA certified. You can find out who is and who isn’t by looking at the College of Optometrists of Ontario website. As TPA certified optometrists, we are able to prescribe ophthalmic medications, aka eye drops, and some limited oral medications. If you’re looking for medical marijuana….no, we are not allowed to prescribe that.
7. I have a red eye. Should I see you or my family doctor?
You can see your family doctor OR myself! Your family doctor is qualified to diagnose eye conditions and prescribe all the medications I mentioned above. However, they may not have the equipment necessary to address your ocular concerns. Let me put it this way: If you had a toothache, yes, your family doctor would be able to help you out, but wouldn’t you rather see your dentist?
8. I see amazing. I don’t need to get an eye exam. Right?
Wrong. Studies show that 1 in every 7 Canadians will develop an eye disease, regardless of how well they are seeing now. Early detection is key to prevent further damage or vision loss. Some of these diseases, such as glaucoma, are asymptomatic, making routine eye exams even more crucial..