There is no substitute for a regular, comprehensive eye examination. Your eyes deserve an optometrist®
A regular eye exam is an important part of your overall healthcare. Many eye problems have no symptoms and rarely any pain. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends comprehensive eye exams every two years for adults, and every year for children and seniors (coverage by your insurer or Manitoba Health may differ from these recommendations, for information on Manitoba Health coverage, see below). You may visit your optometrist more often if you have a specific condition requiring regular monitoring.
Every optometric exam begins with a careful case history. This includes a family history, personal ocular history, medications, signs or symptoms of potential vision problems, and activities that may affect your individual vision needs.
Using specially designed equipment, your optometrist will test for common vision conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Alignment, eye muscle coordination and movement, and peripheral vision will be assessed. The health of your eyes will be examined with a variety of lenses, lights, and equipment. Your optometrist will examine the tissue and structures inside your eye, checking for eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. Other general health concerns, such as diabetes or tumors, can often be detected by a comprehensive eye exam.
Depending on the results of the tests, your optometrist may prescribe corrective lenses, perform further diagnostic tests, determine a treatment plan, or refer you to a specialist if further evaluation or treatment is required.
Who Should Visit an Optometrist?
Even if you have 20/20 vision, it’s important to have your eye health evaluated periodically. Certain eye diseases may be present without symptoms, such as glaucoma, peripheral retinal holes, and early-stage macular degeneration. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends the following specific guidelines:
- Children should visit the optometrist:
- For the first time between six and nine months of age
- again between two and five years of age
- annually after starting school
- Adults between 19-65 with no ongoing health concerns should visit the optometrist every two years.
- Adults over the age of 65 should visit the optometrist every year.
- Patients with diabetes require an annual eye examination to check for diabetic retinopathy, serum glucose-related refractive changes, and neuropathies
- Patients wearing contact lenses should visit the optometrist every year.
- Make an appointment to see your optometrist if you:
- have been diagnosed with a systemic disease that can have ocular complications such as hypertension, thyroid disease, rosacea, arthritis, or multiple sclerosis.
- are taking medication with known ocular side effects, such as steroids, Plaquenil, Accutane, or amiodarone
- are experiencing transient vision loss, sudden visual acuity change or visual disturbances, such as flashes of light, floaters, or distortions.
- are experiencing red eye(s). Your eyes need to be assessed using a biomicroscope to accurately diagnose the cause and determine appropriate treatment. Conditions could include conjunctivitis, uveitis, keratitis, corneal ulcer, allergy, episcleritis, scleritis, or dry eye syndrome.
- If you think you may be experiencing an eye health emergency, visit our Eye Emergencies page.
If corrective lenses are required, your optometrist will determine your refractive status (lens prescription). Because this can fluctuate with blood sugar levels, cataracts, and other ocular or systemic conditions, it is important that your optometrist is aware of your personal health history. The best treatment can be determined when the reason for the refractive error is understood.
Pupillary Distance (PD)
If you require vision correction and decide to purchase glasses, your pupillary distance is one of the several measurements that will be taken by the person who is fitting you for glasses. PD is part of the eyeglass fitting process and is not part of the prescription provided by your optometrist.
Cost of an Eye Exam in Manitoba
The Manitoba Association of Optometrists does not set standard fees for eye exams in Manitoba. The services provided in a comprehensive eye exam require time, staff, equipment, technology, and ongoing training. Optometrists set their professional fees based on a number of factors and there may be variation in fees charged due to the equipment used, the fee structure in place, and other factors.
Manitoba Health insures basic optometric eye exams for children ages 0-18 years and seniors aged 65 years and over every 2 calendar years, starting with odd years. Ocular health exams for Manitobans of any age with diagnosed eye disease or those defined as high risk for developing eye disease (ex. If you have diabetes) are also insured. Ask your optometrist if you are eligible for insured benefits. If you are eligible for an insured eye exam, your optometrist will be able to bill some services to Manitoba Health on your behalf. Manitoba Health does not insure all services required for a comprehensive eye exam and subsequent treatment. There may be additional charges, which are the patient’s responsibility. Your optometrist or the staff will advise you of the fees and charges for services to be performed prior to the provision of services.
If you have extended health insurance, ask your plan administrator what is covered under your vision benefit. Although Manitoba Health does not insure corrective or therapeutic services (eyeglasses, contact lenses, visual training), some private insurance group health plans will cover a portion of these costs.
Access to Personal Health Records
Manitoba's Personal Health Information Act provides that patients have a right to examine and receive a copy of their personal health information kept by their optometrist. The original copy of the records must be retained by the optometry practice, but a copy can be made for you if you wish.
To examine and receive a copy of your records, the request must be made in writing, must be signed by you, and must include your name, address and Personal Health I.D. No. If you wish to authorize another person to examine and receive a copy of your records, this should be included in your signed request.
The Personal Health Information Act also provides that a reasonable fee can be charged for providing this information.