Regular eye exams are an essential part of maintaining the health of your eyes. Your Optometrist is the health care professional who is trained to examine your eye health and your vision in full. This includes early detection of any vision-threatening problems that may be developing and making sure you are seeing your best with the most up-to-date prescriptions. But how much do eye exams cost?
Fortunately, OHIP covers the cost of eye exams in Ontario for those under 19 and over 65 and provides some additional coverage for those between 20–64. However, it’s important to note there are some restrictions. To find out if your eye exam is covered, you can always contact your optometrist.
Often insurance benefits through your work include coverage for eye exams, so be sure to look into your private plans.
The Importance of Regular Eye Exams
Many people mistakenly believe that regular eye exams are just about updating your glasses or contact lens prescription. But they’re about so much more than that.
During a regular eye exam your optometrist will take the time to thoroughly examine your eye health. They’ll take note of any irregularities or changes and look for signs of:
- High blood pressure
- Macular degeneration
They’ll be on the lookout for potential issues or diseases that you may not even be aware of. The eye exam isn’t just about vision or discomfort. This exam allows your eye doctor to gain an in-depth understanding of your eye health so you have the best chance to prevent problems before serious complications develop.
What to Expect During an Eye Exam
Before going in for an eye exam, you’ll likely be asked about your medical history and whether or not your family has a history of any eye problems. This is because many eye conditions have a genetic component—if someone in your direct family has certain eye conditions, you’re often more likely to develop said condition yourself.
Once your optometrist has an understanding of your family and medical history, you’ll go into the pre-test room where a number of automated measurements are taken. Next you move into the exam room where you can expect a series of tests to be performed including:
- Visual acuity test, using a chart of letters on the wall
- Binocular Vision test to examine how well the two eyes work together
- Peripheral Vision test
- Refraction, where you look through a series of lenses, one at a time, to determine your prescription
- Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy exam to assess the inner structures of your eye
- Tonometry to measure the pressure inside the eyes
Depending on what the Optometrist finds, they may also dilate your pupils to get a better look inside the eye. This may cause light sensitivity, but it will go away within a few hours. After the exam, the optometrist will discuss your results and recommend treatments, if necessary. You can be in and out of your exam in anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour.
Are Eye Exams Covered By OHIP?
OHIP stands for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. It’s a government-run program that provides health insurance for residents of Ontario. The plan covers many health services, including some eye care services.
However, there are some restrictions that may affect your eligibility. Generally, OHIP will cover your eye exam if:
- You’re under the age of 20
- You’re over the age of 65
OHIP also covers eye exams at any age if you’re experiencing a medical condition that affects some part of the eye, like:
- Macular degeneration
If you’re unsure of whether or not OHIP will cover your eye exam, you can contact your optometrist and ask for their advice.
How Often Should You Schedule an Eye Exam?
The recommended frequency for eye exams varies depending on your age and whether you have any eye conditions or diseases or if you are at risk of developing any eye conditions or diseases. Some general guidelines to follow are:
- Children should have their first eye exam around 6 months old. Then, they should have another around the age of 3, and annually after this.
- If you are 20-40, you should visit your optometrist at least once every 1-2 years, depending on your Optometrist’s advice.
- If you are over age 40, you should visit at least once a year.
If you have any pre-existing eye conditions, ask your optometrist. They can give an accurate estimation of how often you should return so your symptoms can be monitored and appropriately treated.
And if you’re noticing any changes to your vision or eyes, book an appointment as soon as you can. Many eye conditions start with minimal symptoms and are much more treatable in the early stages, so it’s advantageous to go regularly.
Schedule Your Next Eye Exam
Regular eye exams are an essential part of maintaining your overall health. Don’t wait until you notice a problem to schedule an appointment. At Whitby Family Eye Care, we’re committed to providing thorough, personalized care for each patient, so contact us today to request an appointment.