Loading...

Year: 2021

Update – OHIP Service Withdrawal has Paused

 

The Ontario government has now agreed to formal negotiations with Ontario optometrists to address the chronic under funding of OHIP insured eye care services. As a sign of good faith, optometrists, including all the doctors at Teeple Optometry, are now scheduling appointments for OHIP insured patients.

We are grateful for your overwhelming support for fair funding of eye care during the last few months. We appreciate your ongoing support as negotiations continue and hopefully lead to a successful resolution for everyone. We ask for your patience and understanding as we prioritize our scheduling of patients who have been waiting for eye care in the coming weeks.

The severe under funding of OHIP insured services has not yet ended. If you have not done so already, please visit saveeyecare.ca or contact your MPP and add your voice directing the government to properly fund eye care.

An important message to all our OHIP-insured patients

As of September 1, we will stop providing OHIP insured eye care services. This will affect seniors, children and some adults with certain medical or eye conditions.

Why are optometrists doing this?

For over 30 years, successive Ontario governments have ignored optometrists. In 1989 the fee paid for an OHIP insured eye exam was $39.15. Today, over 32 years later, the fee paid is on average $44.65. This has not kept up with inflation and only covers approximately ½ of the cost (occupancy costs, staff, utilities, equipment, taxes, supplies, etc.) of providing the service. Every time we provide an OHIP insured eye exam, we do so at a loss. This is not sustainable. We are doing this because we are looking for a solution that will allow quality eye care to be available to all our patients in the future.

For those provinces which provide a similar publicly funded service, Ontario is by far the lowest for reimbursement.

The Government’s Offer

You may have read the government has offered us an 8.48% increase on our fees. For a senior’s exam that would raise our fee to about $51.00. While this may appear generous, it still leaves us about 30% below Manitoba’s reimbursement, the next lowest province, and would still be far from covering our costs.

How Does This Affect You?

If you are a senior (65+), a child (19 and under) or an adult with an OHIP insured condition such as diabetes, we will be unable to see you. Provincial law prevents you, or your third-party insurance from paying for an OHIP insured examination. For those who already have an appointment scheduled, we will be contacting you week by week to place your names on a priority booking list so that we can see you when this crisis is resolved.

If you are between the ages of 20 – 64 and do not have an OHIP insured condition (or have a non-OHIP insured need) we are still able to provide you with service. If you have an emergency eye situation, please do call our office so that we can help you get the appropriate care.

How can I help?

You can help us work toward finding a solution by visiting saveeyecare.ca to sign our online petition and writing or calling your MPP.

Monte McNaughton, MPP Minister of Labour

Email: monte.mcnaughtonco@pc.ola.org

81 Front Street West
Strathroy, Ontario N7G 1X6
Tel: (519) 245-8696

OHIP and Your Access to Vision Care

Recently, you may have seen news about optometrists in Ontario and wondered how this impacts you and your family. Teeple Optometry along with optometrists across Ontario are deeply concerned about future access to professional vision care services

What’s the problem?

For more than 30 years, the Ontario government has failed to adequately fund eye care. For more than 30 years, the Ontario government has refused to formally negotiate with optometrists.

In 1989, the Ontario government paid $39.15 for an eye exam.

Thirty-two years later, in 2021, the Ontario government pays on average $44.65 for an eye exam.

That fee does not come close to covering the office expenses such as staff, rent, utilities, equipment, and supplies required to provide an eye exam.

The level of funding for OHIP-insured eye exams is not sustainable.

How will this affect you?

Unfortunately, those who will be impacted the most are the groups OHIP is supposed to protect; our children, seniors and those with existing eye diseases. If the government continues to ignore this issue, Ontario optometrists will be left with no choice but to stop providing OHIP services starting September 1st, 2021.

This means that any person who is OHIP-insured for their eye exam will not be able to see an optometrist, including those 19 years of age and under, 65 years of age and over, and adults with eye diseases related to diabetes, glaucoma and cataracts.

Ontario law makes it illegal for optometrists to accept direct payment or alternate health insurance for OHIP-insured services. As a result, these patients will simply not be able to book an appointment starting September 1st.

After more than 30 years of neglect, the Ontario government can still fix this before September 1st. They only need to commit to a formal negotiation that will lead to a solution where optometrists no longer have to pay out of pocket to provide an eye exam to OHIP-insured patients.  We are pleading with the Ontario government to act responsibly and avoid any impact to our patients.

What’s our plan?

At Teeple Optometry we are advocating for your continued access to quality eye care. For those of you who may have existing appointments after September 1st, or for those with eye diseases who require frequent monitoring we understand this is a difficult situation. If the Ontario government allows service to be disrupted, we will contact you to discuss an individual plan to ensure your specific health needs will be taken care of appropriately. We plan to keep you updated on our efforts and we are available to answer any questions you may have.

How You Can Help

If you or your family uses OHIP-insured services, and you want to help us ensure access to your doctor is not at risk, we invite you to visit SaveEyeCare.ca to sign an electronic letter to tell our elected government officials that eye care matters to you!

Should I Be Wearing Those Blue-Light Glasses?

It has been about a year since COVID-19 forced a significant change in lifestyle for everyone. Many people started working and learning from home, spending more time indoors and on computers and digital devices. Listening to patients over the past year suggests that this increase in screen time has a noticeable effect on eye comfort for many. What’s more, news stories and social media posts speculate about whether exposure to the lower wavelength (blue) component of the light emitted by these screens can affect your level of wakefulness or even cause damage to the eyes over the long term.

Computer Vision Syndrome is an established term describing how the eyes are impacted by digital device use. The syndrome can essentially be broken down into two parts: eye dryness and alignment/focusing problems. Looking at a computer screen causes us to blink less often, which leads to the break-up and evaporation of the tear layer on the surface of the eye. This causes symptoms of dryness, burning, and blurred vision. Our screens (especially phone screens) are also often very close to our eyes, requiring the eyes to turn inwards (converge), and focus (accommodate) for long periods of time. Convergence and accommodation require muscles in and around the eye to work, and over a full day of screen time these muscles can feel tired and sore. Anecdotally, blue light may seem a bit harsher to the vision, particularly in the evenings and in dimly lit settings. However, neither dryness nor eye muscle fatigue have been shown to have a direct link to blue light itself.

Some sources claim that blue light from screens can cause damage to the retina over long periods of exposure; however, studies to date have not produced evidence supporting this claim. Blue light is higher in energy than other visible wavelengths, and excessive exposure has been shown, in addition to UV light, to increase the risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. However, the amount of blue light emitted by our screens, even over an entire day, is miniscule in comparison to the amount of blue light we receive from the sun just from being outdoors.

Further research suggests that blue light from screens has an impact on sleep-wake cycles and circadian rhythm. IPRGCs (Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells) are cells in the retina that detect low wavelength (blue) light and send that information to the area of the pineal gland of the brain, which controls our sleep cycles. The theory is that blue light from the daytime sun tells our brains to stay awake, and redder light during the evening signals the brain to start to prepare for sleep. Since our devices are providing constant blue light regardless of the time of day, this signals to the brain that it should still be awake and can result in difficulty falling asleep.

So what’s the verdict? The evidence that we have to date suggests that exposure to blue light emitted by screens is not a significant risk for long term damage to your eyes, nor does it factor into eye fatigue from prolonged screen time. More effective strategies for those who are concerned about light damage to the eyes would include wearing UV-blocking sunglasses when outdoors, and giving your eyes frequent breaks throughout the day during extended screen time can help prevent eye fatigue (a popular cue is the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds). Smoking cessation, good nutrition, and exercise are also well-established factors in protecting eye health. It may be worth considering how the blue component of light from screens impacts falling asleep, or whether it feels bright and harsh to look at. However, both issues are easily and freely solved with settings or apps that shift the colour of your display towards a redder hue in the evenings. In short, even though they will likely not harm your eyes, there is no known benefit to wearing blue-light-filter glasses for the purpose of preventing eye damage indoors. If extended screen time is uncomfortable for you, or if you have concerns about the effect of blue light on your eyes, make an appointment with your optometrist to have an assessment and develop preventative strategies.

Dr. Liam Teeple, OD BSc

Copyright 2024© Teeple Optometry - Website Hosting by Rainmaker Leads & Digital Marketing
Top