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

An optometrist is a doctor of optometry who examines patients in order to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent diseases and disorders of the eye and vision system and its related structures. An optometrist may also prescribe drugs for the treatment of eye conditions and provide, fit and adjust eyeglasses, contact lenses or subnormal vision devices for patients who require them.

An ophthalmologist is a physician who, upon graduation from medical school, undertakes several years of post-graduate training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye. As well as diagnosing and treating ocular disease either by medical or surgical means, ophthalmologists may offer oculo-visual assessment, which includes prescription for corrective lenses.

An optician provides, fits and adjusts eyeglasses, contact lenses or subnormal vision devices on the prescription of an optometrist or physician.

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When Should you See an Optometrist?

The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends the following as a general guide:Preschool (2 to 5 years) at age 3, and prior to entering elementary school.School age (6 to 18 years) annually.Adult (19 to 64 years) every one to two years.Older adult (65 years and older annually.People with ocular or medical health conditions as determined by your eye doctor.

What is 20/20 Vision?

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) that the target is calibrated for. 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 had 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 small detail at 20 feet that a person with 20/20 vision would have to bring closer to 15 feet to be able recognize it.

Does OHIP cover eye exams?

Currently, OHIP will provide coverage for the following groups below:

  • Children aged 0 to 19 years • One full eye examination annually
  • Seniors aged 65 and above • One full eye examination annually
  • Adults aged 20 to 64 years ONLY with certain medical conditions • One full eye examination annually