Author: Ralph Teeple

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

Best wishes Dr. Mark Teeple!

Teeple Optometry wishes to congratulate Dr. Mark Teeple on his retirement from practice. Dr. Mark launched the Arkona practice in 1979 following graduation from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry. He relocated the clinic to its current location in 1985. Dr. Mark brought the values of clinical excellence and continued learning to the practice. He earned his Fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry and was a clinical supervisor and lecturer at the School of Optometry. He gave back to the profession by serving on various committees and the executive board of the College of Optometrists of Ontario where he went on to serve a term as president. He also served on the board of the Canadian Examiners in Optometry. From the beginning of his career, Dr. Mark placed a high value on the interests of the local community and his patients.

Mark’s brother, Dr. Ralph Teeple, joined Dr. Mark’s growing practice in 1988. Dr. Tina Morowat joined the practice in 2016 and recently became a practice owner in 2019.   Just this year, Dr. Liam Teeple has joined as an associate. Teeple Optometry’s vision is to continue to share Dr. Mark’s values of clinical excellence, education, community involvement and care for our patients.

Dr. Mark will be missed by his fellow doctors, the team and patients of Teeple Optometry. We wish him the very best as he transitions into this next stage of life!

Welcome Dr. Liam Teeple!

We’re so excited to welcome Liam to our practice!

Dr. Liam Teeple completed both his Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree and Doctor of Optometry degree at the University of Waterloo, graduating in 2020. He completed practical internships in Alberta and Kitchener, gaining clinical experience in the management of ocular disease and primary eye care. He will be completing the second part of the Optometry Qualifying Exam, which was delayed because of COVID-19, later this year. Until that time, he will be working under the supervision of the other doctors.

Liam is the son of Dr. Ralph, and you may recognize him from his several summers spent working in the frame gallery or pretesting area at Teeple Optometry.

In his free time, Liam enjoys creating and listening to music, taking photos, exercising, playing hockey, and hiking with his fiancée Nasim.

Ontario’s Eye Care Crisis: Visible for All to See

Optometrists are the front-line workers of the vision care system, and their services are at the heart of screening and diagnostic services in Ontario.

At Teeple Optometry we are passionate and proud to deliver high quality, accessible eye care, to this beautiful community encompassing eastern Lambton and western Middlesex counties.

Unfortunately, for more than 30 years, successive governments have failed to invest in eye care. As a result, OHIP now only covers half the cost of an eye examination. We subsidize the remainder. Coupled with the devastating impact of COVID-19 on optometrists’ ability to see patients, eye care in Ontario is now at risk.

The pandemic has strained health professionals and decimated small businesses.  Teeple Optometry is not immune to the pressure, COVID-19 has only more openly exposed the failing OHIP funding system.

This situation is unfair and is unsustainable.

Going to work every day knowing you will be operating at a loss is challenging enough. But even more debilitating is seeing what you devoted your entire career to – improving people’s quality of life – being dismissed as unessential.

We absolutely love what we do, not only because we can help improve your eyesight, but we also have the ability, through comprehensive eye exams, to detect the early stages of potentially life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and potential strokes. It is incredibly rewarding to help people lead healthier, happier lives.

But it’s time for Ontario’s elected officials to open their eyes to a crisis that’s about to become painfully visible for all to see. Our message to government is not one of confrontation but of collaboration. Because it doesn’t have to be this way.

With policy changes or assistance, we can avoid further straining an already overstretched healthcare system.

With statistics showing that 1 in 3 Ontarians will have some form of vision-threatening eye disease by the age of 65, finding a sustainable solution is more pressing than ever.

We owe it to our parents and grandparents, our children and grandchildren, to find a better way forward.

To learn more and to add your voice to the growing number of Ontarians calling on government to work with optometrists, visit www.saveeyecare.ca.

We’re open! Here’s what you need to know.

We have resumed regular office hours and are scheduling routine appointments. We have worked diligently to create a safe environment for our staff and patients and we look forward to serving you. There are several new and important considerations to review before calling and visiting our office.

  • We will be scheduling patients based on several priorities including urgency and risk. Please be patient as our staff continue to accommodate a large number of previously cancelled and priority appointments.
  • If you have an eye emergency, don’t hesitate to call the office.
  • You must disclose to us if you have a fever, sore throat, cough, conjunctivitis, feel generally unwell, have a reduced sense of taste and smell, have had contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, have had a positive COVID test or have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days. (For a self assessment tool –  click here )
  • Entry to our office is by appointment only. No walk-ins are allowed.
  • You must wear a well fitted 2+ layer mask for the duration of your time in the office and sanitize your hands upon arrival and departure. You must not bring extra, unnecessary items with you. No food or drink is allowed. The mask must cover your mouth and nose at all times. One layer gaitor or bandanna style will not be allowed.
  • You must enter the office by yourself, unless a care taker is required. Multiple members of a family may not enter together.
  • We may advise scheduling a teleoptometry appointment, rather than office visit in certain situations.
  • Some repairs and pickups can be arranged without office entry.
  • You can contact our office by calling 519-828-3858 or by using the contact form on our web site. We have suspended our online booking service for the time being.

Please continue to check this page for the latest updates.

Congratulations Karen!

Karen’s hard work over the past year to achieve her Canadian Certified Optometric Assistant designation has come to fruition! We’re so proud of Karen and her accomplishment!

Karen has been part of the Teeple Optometry team since 2018 working as an Optometric Assistant. Karen brightens the office with her welcoming personality, sense of humor and thoughtful approach to patient care. When not at work, she enjoys being active outdoors doing activities like baseball, gardening and geocaching. Karen also enjoys reading and spending time with family.

Important changes to our services and schedule during the COVID-19 outbreak

We are responding to recommendations from the College of Optometrists of Ontario to limit our services to urgent care only until the restrictions are eased. Here’s what this means for you.

  • We will be deferring routine and non-urgent eyecare for the time being.
  • Urgent eye care situations include symptoms of loss of vision in either eye, a sudden change in vision, an eye injury or infection, new eye pain, breakage or loss of critical eyewear. If you are unsure whether your symptoms are urgent, you may contact our office.
  • If you have an appointment already scheduled that is not urgent, we will be contacting you to reschedule it to a later date.
  • If you have glasses or contact lenses in process, we will do our best to dispense these to you in a safe manner. If you require more contact lenses and are due for an examination, we are able to provide you a supply and ship to your home where possible.
  • If you have broken a critical pair of glasses, we will attempt to repair these for you.
  • Please do not come to our office without an appointment or contacting us first. Please do not bring accompanying family members or drivers with you into the office. We will limit the number of people in our office at any one time.
  • We are limiting the hours we are open.
  • You can contact our office by calling 519-828-3858, emailing teepleoptometry@execulink.com or by using the contact form on this web page. We will  be responding to messages as able inside of normal business hours.
  • If you have a fever, recent cough, feel unwell or have traveled outside Canada in the last 14 days or have had exposure to another person infected with the cornavirus, do not come to the office.

Our temporary office hours are:

  • Mondays             9:00 – 12:00
  • Tuesdays             Closed
  • Wednesdays       1:00 – 4:00
  • Thursdays           Closed
  • Fridays               9:00 – 12:00

Please continue to check this page for the latest updates.


What it means to be a Fellow

At Teeple Optometry we are all really excited to have a new “Fellow” in the office.  Dr. Tina Morowat recently received the credential, Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.  Since 1922, the American Academy of Optometry has been committed to promoting the art and science of vision care through lifelong learning. The letters “FAAO” (Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry) after an optometrist, scientist or other qualified person’s name signify to colleagues and patients that rigorous qualifications for Fellowship have been met, and that the member is committed to life-long learning.

You can learn more about our team at Teeple Optometry here.  You can learn more about the process to become a Fellow of the Academy here.



Can I protect my child from becoming so nearsighted?

My previous “Why am I Nearsighted?” blog explains what myopia (nearsightedness) is and discusses what we know and don’t know about the causes of myopia and the reasons for its progression through childhood and adult life.

Although we still don’t know the answer to the question: “Is it preventable?”, some recent research gets us a little closer to discovering an answer.

There is important ongoing research into myopia prevention and we’re beginning to learn about some forms of treatment that may help slow the rate of worsening myopia in childhood, and ultimately reduce the total amount of myopia. Unfortunately, so far, we have not learned how to prevent it altogether.

Studies are showing that the rate of myopia progression can be reduced in young children treated with special peripheral defocus contact lenses or glasses. The rate myopia increases year after year can be slowed up to 59% using special contact lenses, such as MISight daily disposable contact lenses. Special glasses, although not as effective as contact lenses, may reduce progression about 10-20%.

Atropine eye drops have also been shown to slow the rate of progression by approximately 60% with some individual variability. Atropine drops may have some side effects, such as light sensitivity and reduced near vision. The severity of the side effects can be reduced by using a low dose of the drop.

Orthokeratology is the use of gas permeable rigid contact lens, worn at nighttime, to reshape the cornea. This treatment also slows the progression of myopia by approximately 50%.

As stated in my previous blog, ensuring our children have plenty of time outdoors, also appears to help slow myopia progression.

If you have questions concerning your child’s nearsightness and whether treatment may be beneficial for them, please schedule an appointment for your child and we would be happy to discuss it further.

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