Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Optometrist?
An optometrist, commonly called an eye doctor, diagnoses and treats eye problems and disorders. Eye doctors perform about 80% of all primary eye exams in Canada, according to the Alberta Association of Optometrists.
After running any necessary tests, your eye doctor will diagnose the problem. Suggested treatments may include prescription eyeglasses, ointments, procedures, and more. Optometrists are licensed to write prescriptions for eyeglasses and medications for some eye problems.
Your doctor may also inform you that your eyes are healthy and nothing is required. Even if you don’t think anything is wrong, it’s good to get your eyes checked regularly. Similar to a doctor’s check-up, you may catch issues early and prevent it from worsening. Optometrists can even spot early signs of non-eye-related problems, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Keep in mind that “sight” or “screening” tests can be performed by untrained individuals. These can test your sight but aren’t the same as a full exam designed to diagnose problems.
Is an Optometrist a Doctor? Optometrist Education
Many people wonder “is an optometrist a doctor?” An optometrist is a doctor of optometry (OD), which is why they’re commonly called “eye doctors.” However, an optometrist is not a medical doctor (MD) and can only provide services for eye health.
Optometrist education includes a minimum of 3 years of an undergraduate program (usually a science program) and a 4-5 year optometry university program.
Graduates must also pass the Canadian Assessment of Competency in Optometry (CACO) before getting a license with their provincial governing body.
Optometrist vs. Optician
When comparing an optometrist vs. an optician, what’s the difference?
An optometrist is trained to diagnose and treat eye issues, including prescribing glasses. On the other hand, an optician works specifically with glasses and contacts. They’re trained to fit frames and lenses. After you get a prescription from an optometrist, you visit an optician, who helps design the glasses to your needs.
An optician’s services include:
Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist
Before booking an appointment, many people wonder about the difference between an optometrist vs. an ophthalmologist.
Ophthalmologists and optometrists are both eye doctors. However, an optometrist is a doctor of optometry (OD) and an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD). Ophthalmologists have the training required by medical doctors but specialize in eye health. Their advanced training allows them to perform surgery, treat all eye diseases, and other advanced eye problems.
For most eye concerns, like eye exams or prescriptions, book an appointment with an optometrist. If you need advanced care, they’ll refer you to an ophthalmologist.
Eye Test Types
A typical eye doctor appointment involves a comprehensive exam. Your doctor may use a variety of tests, like:
How Often Should Adults Get Eye Exams?
How often you should get an eye exam depends on your age. Here are the recommendations provided by the Canadian Association of Optometrists:
Eye Exams for Kids: How Often?
You should book your infant’s first eye examination between 6 and 9 months, according to the Canadian Association of Optometrists.
Preschool children should have at least one eye exam between 2 and 5 years old. Kids between 6 and 19 should get an eye exam each year.
To get an eye exam for kids near you, enter your postal code on Medimap.
Common Eye Problems: Where Do I Book An Appointment?
If you’re struggling with these common eye problems, you may be wondering who you should talk to.
Common Eye Doctor Questions
A: To buy prescription eyeglasses, you will need a prescription. An optometrist can test your eyes to find the most suitable prescription for you.
A: Although many practices also sell glasses, you can take your prescription to any store.
A: If you’ve accidentally broken your glasses, you’re probably wondering where to take them to get them repaired. Opticians (where you filled your prescription) can also repair frames.
A: An optometrist can write prescriptions for glasses and some eye conditions. They are not authorized to write prescriptions for other medications or concerns, as your family doctor would be.
A: To qualify for laser eye surgery, you must book an appointment with an ophthalmologist. Since ophthalmologists are medical doctors, they are trained to perform surgery, whereas optometrists are not.
Are Eye Doctors Covered By Provincial Health Plans?
One eye exam a year is covered by OHIP for people under 19 or 65 and over. Medical necessary appointments are covered for people with certain conditions. One eye appointment is covered for people aged 20 to 65 if deemed medically necessary.
One eye exam a year is covered for people under 19 and 65 or older. Appointments deemed medically necessary are covered for people of all ages.
Optometric services are covered for people under 18 and age 65 or over. You may also be eligible if you’re between 18 and 64 and have received last-resort financial assistance for the past year. Ocular emergencies are also covered.
One examination is covered every two years for people under 19 or 65 and over. Appointments deemed medically necessary are covered for people of all ages.
One eye exam a year and medical necessary appointments are covered for people under 18 or over 65. Appointments deemed medically necessary are covered for people of all ages.
No provincial coverage. However, low-income families with children under 19 may qualify for eye exam coverage.
No general coverage. There’s coverage available for eye exams for kindergarten children.
Children 9 and under and adults 65 and older are covered for one eye exam every two years. Appointments deemed medically necessary are covered for people of all ages.
No general coverage. Kindergarten children are covered for an eye exam as are people with diabetes. Health P.E.I. also covers optometrist visits for red eyes and dry eyes.
One eye exam a year is covered for children under 18. People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are covered for a yearly appointment. Ocular emergencies are also covered.
How Much Do Eye Exams Cost?
When your eye exam cost isn’t covered under provincial health care or extended work benefits, you’ll need to pay out of pocket.
How much an eye exam costs depends on your location, the office, and the tests required. As such, fees can vary widely. You can expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $250 for an eye exam appointment.
Do I Need a Referral to See an Optometrist or Optician?
You do not need a referral to see an optometrist; you can simply book an appointment.
If your appointment is medically necessary and you qualify for provincial coverage, in some cases, a doctor’s referral may be required.
To visit an optician to get glasses, you’ll need a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
How Do I Find An Optometrist Near Me?
Whether you’re looking for an optometrist in Toronto, Vancouver, or anywhere in Canada, we can help find your most convenient option.
To see an eye doctor near you, enter your postal code or your city on Medimap. Compare optician availability and locations and select “Book Appointment” on your selected listing.