Welcome to our newest documentation series, Understanding the Process of your Vision Health! We will delve into what you can expect from a full eye health and vision exam using bite sized posts of information. Did you know that one third of Canadians have not had a full eye examination in over 3 years? Healthy adults should be seen at a minimum of every 2 years, and children, seniors or anyone with other health conditions may need to be seen yearly. Good eye health is a practice in proactive health care, the reason being that our eyes are very complicated mechanisms that are impossible to replace and difficult to repair. This means that when you have missing areas or black spots in your vision it is too late to fix the problem, the damage has already been done. Therefore, keeping on top of your eye health and catching any problems or eye diseases early is going to be key to keeping your vision full and clear. If you are one of those Canadians that has never had an eye exam, or it has been a very long time, you may find the whole idea of an eye exam to be a bit daunting! I promise, it's not! It's a very simple process where you will have plenty of help on the way! Let start at the very beginning, shall we?
The First Call
When you first call your optometrists office, they will need a whole bunch of information for your file. It is very important to provide as much information as possible, including your home address, phone number, occupation, any insurance information and your BC Health Card number. Many offices now will be able to directly bill your insurance plan, but if not, you will be able tosubmit any receipts you get for reimbursement. Of course if you do not have nay medical insurance through family or work, you can claim eye exam and glasses expanses on your Medical Expenses for income tax filing purposes. Most healthy adults will not have any coverage towards an eye exam via BC Medical Services plan, but it is always important to keep your PHN# on your file just incase we do have an opportunity to bill some of your exam to BC MSP, for example - if any other medical issues arise or in an eye emergency situation the doctor may be able to bill a portion of the exam at that time. Of course children and seniors will have partial coverage through BC Medical Services plan as long as they have an active BC Personal Health Number (PHN). Extra contact information is always helpful, in case the clinic needs to get a hold of you. If at all possible, try to leave multiple phone contact numbers and an email on your file. This will make things much easier for your clinic to get a hold of you if need be, for an emergency appointment or whatever else you may need in a speedy fashion.
Booking an appointment
Biggest tip I can give anyone who is booking an exam is - DON'T WAIT TIL THE LAST MINUTE! Many optometrists will be booking at least a month or 2 ahead of time, so if you know you are coming up to be due for an exam, call early! This will ensure you are having your eye exam at the right time, and you will then be able to have your choice of dates and time availability! An even better idea is to pre-book your next future exam when you finish the last one! We do this for many clients in our clinic, whether they are due in 1 or 2 years, popping them into the schedule for the following appointment will mean you are already set up for a date and time that is likely to work for you, and you will not have to try to remember when its time to book. This is especially if you are also being seen for contact lenses of any kind, you will need to give the clinic time to order your appropriate lenses to try if they are not in stock. Always be sure you are booking atleast 4 weeks in advance, and your clinic will appreciate that you have thought ahead and been proactive with your eye health!
How to Prepare, What to Bring
There isn't a lot you need to do to prepare for an eye examination, but there are a few things you should think to bring with you. First and foremost, and lists of medications, and family medical history is excellent to have at your exam. Many eye diseases could be hereditary, and many visual effects could be a side effect of a medication you take, so both these things are very important information for your health care professional to know about. If there are any hereditary eye diseases, your optometrist can make special efforts to monitor those early warning signs of a possible issue. Some medications can have some risks to the eyes, for example Plaquenil is a common medication for arthritis, but you must have your retina's checked every 6-12 months while taking it to be on the precautionary side because in rare instance it can cause ocular toxicity to many parts of the eye including the retina, ciliary body or cornea. Even though it is on the rarer side for this to happen, it is impossible to reverse, so you want to catch it quickly if it is suspected to be happening. Next up you will want to bring any and all pairs of glasses that you may currently use. This includes prescription sunglasses, reading glasses, computer glasses or progressive lenses. If you find yourself wearing multiple pairs - bring them all! This will help the doctor to determine if you require any special customizations to any of your prescription lenses, such as a custom reading distance, or maybe a specific computer distance if you sit further away from your monitor than most people do. Sunglasses, whether they are prescription or not, are always important to bring, as your doctor will most likely plan to dilate your eyes. This will make you more light sensitive than usual, and make seeing up close very difficult until the drops have worn off. Having your sunglasses with you will certainly make leaving your clinic more comfortable for you, especially if it is a fairly nice and sunny day outside. The only other necessity to bring is your personal insurance information. This could be insurance you get through your employment, through your spouse or another family member. Many optical clinics can now directly bill insurance for exam or glasses costs, but will need your billing information to do so. If for some reason your plan does not allow direct submission, or if the clinic is unable to bill for your particular plan, you will always have the option of sending in your paid receipt to your insurance plan yourself and they will reimburse you for what you would be covered. That's about all you really need to bring!
Heading to your Appointment
Once you have your appointment booked and sorted out all the information and things you will need to bring, its just a matter of waiting for your appointment. It is never a bad idea to arrive to your appointment 5 minutes early so the reception will have a chance to confirm and update all your information. If you think you will be wanting to update your glasses, its never a bad idea to look at frame options before your exam. Once you come out from your exam you will most likely be dilated with drops for your health exam, and it may be difficult to see and choose a suitable frame after the fact. If that is something you want to do, you may want to go in even earlier than 5 mins to give yourself some frame trying time before your eyes are dilated. Your specific clinic may have a certain way of doing things of course, so make sure you check with them when booking your appointment if you will be able to peruse the frames before you are seen by the doctor, or if you need a separate appointment to do so.
In our next post in this series we will take a look at some of the possible preliminary testing you will have done before your exam with your Doctor, so stay tuned!
Licensed Optician #2557