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Importance of Visiting an Optometrist in Victoria, BC

An eye looking straight upwards

The Victoria Optometric Association is dedicated to the overall eye health of Greater Victoria residents. Our members want to ensure all local residents have access to the latest in technology, eye health exams, and the best eyewear available. We understand the importance of eye health in everyday life. To help you understand the importance of visiting your optometrist, we’ve pulled together this information to help you make an informed choice for your vision care.

Optometry has been a regulated profession under British Columbia legislation since 1921. Optometry, under the Health Professions Act, has been a designated health profession since March 1, 2009, and is regulated by the College of Optometrists of British Columbia in accordance with the Act, the Optometrists Regulation, and the Bylaws of the College. The Victoria Optometric Association suggests eye exams should optimally be conducted annually to prevent long-term vision damage. When it comes to minimum standards, the Opticians Association of Canada endorses frequency recommended by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society who recommend:

Screening intervals in the asymptomatic low-risk patient

  • Age 19–40 years: at least every 10 years

  • Age 41–55 years: at least every 5 years

  • Age 56–65 years: at least every 3 years

  • Age greater than 65 years: at least every 2 years

Screening in symptomatic patients

Any patient noting changes in visual acuity, visual field, colour vision, or physical changes to the eye should be assessed as soon as possible.

Screening intervals in high-risk patients

Patients at higher risk of visual impairment - those with diabetes, cataract, macular degeneration, or glaucoma and glaucoma suspects, and patients with a family history of these conditions - should be assessed more frequently and thoroughly.

  • Age greater than 40 years: at least every 3 years

  • Age greater than 50 years: at least every 2 years

  • Age greater than 60 years: at least annually

British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) provides coverage for optometric services for the following general population:

  • Children aged 0 to 18 years: One full eye examination annually.

  • Seniors aged 65 and above: One full eye examination annually.

  • Adults aged 19 to 64: Eye exams not covered by MSP unless medically required including ocular disease, trauma or injury; systemic diseases associated with significant ocular risk (e.g. diabetes); and medications associated with significant ocular risk.

Discuss your coverage details with your Doctor of Optometry who will be able to evaluate and comment on your specific needs and coverage levels.

Optometric services not covered by MSP include recommended treatments such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, eye coordination exercises, eye medications; Contact lens fitting; Eye examinations that are required by potential employers or other third parties; and laser refractive surgery management (pre-and post-operative visits).

Doctors of Optometry are eligible to opt out of the Medical Services Plan and to set their own fees for services. Patients are encouraged to review the costs for services with their Doctor of Optometry in advance of their appointment. Staff should inform you of the fees charged and if the Doctor of Optometry is opted-out of MSP when you book your appointment.

If you need to find an optometrist in the Greater Victoria Area, or for association-related questions, call the Victoria Optometric Association at 250-361-1427 today.


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