Getting appropriate eye care

Survey shows people more likely to visit emergency ward than optometrist for eye issues

  • Jun. 9, 2015 1:00 p.m.

From eye infections to eye injury, eye emergencies can come in many different forms and, without proper treatment, can have damaging and lasting effects on your vision.

A recent nationwide survey reveals that when faced with an eye emergency, Canadians are most likely to visit the emergency room or their family doctor rather than an optometrist.

“People are not taking advantage of this health resource because they don’t realize that optometrists have the training and equipment to treat a range of acute eye conditions, or that most can see patients the same day if the matter is deemed urgent,” said Qualicum Beach Doctor of Optometry, Michael Kellam.

“If you had a toothache, you’d likely go to the dentist. Yet, research shows that someone experiencing a red, irritated eye is more likely to head to a walk-in clinic.”

The survey, conducted by the Mustel Group on behalf of Doctors of Optometry Canada, collected responses from 2,500 people across Canada.

While many survey respondents said they would seek treatment from a Doctor of Optometry for non-urgent eye care, such as having their vision checked or being tested for cataracts, a much smaller number — fewer than 20 per cent — said they would see an optometrist if they developed symptoms of an eye infection, or experienced an eye injury or foreign body in the eye.

Optometrists’ scope of practice includes treating urgent eye conditions such as red eye, itchy eyes, eye injuries, foreign objects in the eye and eye infection.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Research, more than 36,600 Canadians visited an emergency department in 2013/2014 seeking treatment for a common eye infection called conjunctivitis — also known as pink eye.

Pink eye, which affects the surface of the eyeball and the inside of the eyelid, is the most common eye infection among children.

It is also one of the top 10 causes of avoidable emergency department (ER) visits in Canada.

Most uncomplicated eye conditions can be resolved with the proper diagnosis and treatment.

However, misdiagnosis of an eye infection or injury can have significant consequences, mainly from delaying treatment.

“Many eye conditions present in a similar fashion, but they have different causes and treatments,” said Kellam.

“Under the microscope, optometrists can differentiate between a bacterial or viral infection, or an allergic reaction, and can prescribe the appropriate medication.”

“Without access to this kind of technology, we would essentially have to make the diagnosis in the dark.”

A referral is not required to see a Doctor of Optometry for either acute or preventive eye care. To find an optometrist near you, bc.doctorsofoptometry.ca.

— Submitted by Doctors of Optometry Canada

Just Posted

Parksville’s Arrowsmith Lodge and Cokely Manor celebrate 50 years

Week of ‘60s-themed activities starts on April 26

UPDATE: Missing kayakers located safe and sound in Welcome Bay

Pair were reported missing April 22, in vicinity of Lasqueti Island

Review: The Magic of ‘Almost, Maine’

ECHO Players production runs through May 5 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach

Coombs farm auction returns April 28

CFI hosts 41st annual auction

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

Most Read