If you’ve never been to an eye doctor before, or are new to the area, finding the right Optometrist can be tricky.
The is why we put together this Optometrist Toronto Guide: How to Choose an Eye Doctor for you.
There are different types of eye care specialists, so choosing the right medical professional for you can seem confusing.
Luckily, we’re here to help point you in the right direction and get you started on your journey in securing a lifetime of great vision.
What’s the Difference Between an Optometrist, Ophthalmologist and Optician?
Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, and Optician. The different titles can be confusing. So, how do you determine the eye health professional who you should be going to see in the first place?
What is an Optometrist?
In Canada, an optometrist is an eye doctor who has earned a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree which requires seven to eight years of post-secondary education to obtain this highly specialized professional designation.
Optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system. Eye doctors provide comprehensive vision and eye care, which includes dispensing and refraction, detection, diagnosis and management of eye disease, and visual system conditions rehabilitation.
Optometrists are clinically trained and licensed to provide primary eye care. In Ontario, licensing is with the College of Optometrists of Ontario.
There are some things your Toronto Optometrist will check for during your office visit.
- Expect to have an eye exam. The exam allows your Optometrist to assess and diagnose any disorders of the eye or visual systems. Your doc will be checking for common issues such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
- If you have any pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, your Optometrist will co-manage related symptoms that may be affecting the current state of your eye health.
- During your exam, you may be prescribed medication or receive referrals to secondary specialists. The appointment will also serve as a chance to receive prescription eyewear ranging from glasses, safety glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses.
What is an Ophthalmologist?
Ophthalmologists are both eye disease specialists and surgeons. Training for this specialization includes a Bachelor’s degree, four years of medical school from an accredited university, as well as a hospital residency in medical and surgical care. Patients usually need a referral from an Optometrist before being seen by an Ophthalmologist.
What is an Optician?
You will usually see Opticians working in customer service roles. They are the people you will meet when you are ready to receive any prescribed visual aids like glasses and contact lenses. Opticians go through college-level training to be able to be able to provide and dispense optical aids. They do not diagnose eye conditions and do not prescribe treatment.
Once you’ve determined that you would like to receive care from an Optometrist, the next step is to figure out how to locate an eye doctor.
Other Medical Professionals
Ask your primary care physician or your child’s paediatrician if there are any well-respected eye clinics you should seek out. It is great to get a firsthand opinion from individuals who are involved in the medical practice field. If there are any pre-existing conditions, this will also give the physician a chance to refer an Optometrist that may specialize in specific areas.
Family, Friends, and Co-Workers
Think about how many people you interact with daily who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses. If they have these prescription vision aids, that means they’ve seen an eye doctor, so go ahead and ask them for a referral! Your friend may have an Optometrist that they’ve been going to for years and may even offer to stop by the office with you to make a soft introduction.
Research Professional Organizations
There are many tools online that let you search for Optometrists located in your area. Try using this one from The Canadian Association of Optometrists. Many websites allow you to search for an eye doctor by typing in your location and entering in a kilometer radius you are willing to travel.
If you have the last name of a professional you would like to locate, you can search the database of many of these websites to find out contact information as well.
Why Should You See a Toronto Eye Doctor?
You are probably familiar with the importance of receiving annual physicals to stay on top of your health proactively and to catch any possible warning signs early. Taking a proactive approach is the same reason you should be getting your eyes examined annually.
Many people are unaware of how important eye health is in regards to overall health and wellness. Early detection of possible issues can save a lot of pain, time, and money in the long run. Seeing an eye care professional will ensure that your eyes are in tiptop shape and are not negatively impacting your overall health in any way.
A common misconception is that if you are not currently experiencing any problems with your vision, then your eyes must be in perfect condition. No warning signs do not always equal perfect health though. Annual and bi-annual check-ups will help to make sure that your eyes are functioning well and will aid your Optometrist in predicting if there may be any issues that could arise down the road.
You want to deal with any complications that may cause vision loss before anything serious happens. Vision loss often occurs because symptoms have gone unnoticed or unaddressed, and receiving regular check-ups can eliminate the chances of missing key clues into the current state of your eye health.
It is a good idea to find a trusted Optometrist even if you don’t believe you are experiencing any vision issues. You could be experiencing eye strain and not even know it. Additionally, should an issue such as pink eye pop into your life, it is beneficial to have an eye care professional who already knows your background.
Figuring Out What Is Important
Do your homework. Don’t just search the Internet or phone book for the first name you see pop up. You need to look for a professional who is board-certified and who has credentials that are up-to-date. Consider choosing an eye doctor who is actively participating in medical research or educational conferences, as this is a sign that he or she is keeping up with current industry trends and best practices.
Researching into the doctor’s history is important. You can check to see if there have been any malpractice claims filed against your prospective Optometrist. If you find out that his or her license has ever been suspended or revoked, you will probably want to search for another provider.
It is important to select an Optometrist that has the background and training to be able to support your specific vision needs. If you are experiencing a particular problem that you would like to take corrective action on, find an eye doctor who has specialized training dealing with that specific disease or malady.
Make sure that you are selecting a doctor that offers a broad range of services that will be able to meet your needs. For example, if you are interested in finding out more information about laser eye surgery Toronto, you will want to select a professional who has years of knowledge and experience caring for patients who have undergone this treatment.
Considerations Choosing the Right Toronto Eye Clinic
First impressions are important, so pay close attention to your interactions with a prospective Toronto eye clinic practice right from the beginning.
When you called to make your initial appointment, was your call promptly picked up?
Did the office staff seem knowledgeable?
Keep availability in mind.
Do you need an office that is open on the weekends or late on the weekdays?
Be sure to ask how long you will have to wait before your first exam.
When you first walk into a Toronto eye clinic, pay attention to whether it looks well taken care of and organized. Were the staff members timely? Did they collect all of the appropriate information needed?
These small signs can serve as a quick preview of what it could be like should an emergency arise, and you need to be able to be in contact with your eye doctor immediately.
In any medical setting, cleanliness is essential. How tidy the practice appears to be is a good indicator as to how much the Optometrist and staff value hygiene and infection control. Also pay close attention to the literature, signage, and material goods offered by the office. These pieces can clue you in as to whether your prospective provider is keeping up with the trends and guidelines within the eye care industry.
Research Toronto Optometrist reviews online. For any negative reviews, you may come across, be sure to evaluate if the complaints listed are matters of contention that are important to you. Obviously, what one person likes another may dislike, so be sure to form your own opinions and be thoughtful when reading reviews from people who are unfamiliar.
Try not to be persuaded by age. Many variables come into play, and age may have nothing to do with the amount of specialization, research, and communication skills offered by the doctor.
Evaluate whether you should be seeing an Optometrist with experience in a particular segment of eye care. While general eye care may be all that you are looking for, it could also be beneficial to seek out an eye doctor who specializes in specific conditions or even behavioural areas.
Choosing an Optometrist for Your Child
Many eye doctors recommend that children begin to get eye exams as early as six months old. A medical professional should ensure that a baby’s vision is tracking correctly and that there are no signs of eye crossing. The child’s paediatrician can do this basic evaluation.
Paediatricians should also be checking a child’s vision around three years of age and again before the child goes off to school. At such a young age, there is usually not a need for a child to see an Optometrist unless an eye disease or vision issue is present.
As a parent, you are the best advocate for your child, so pay close attention to any abnormalities you might pick up on regarding your son or daughters eyes. If you feel that there may be an issue, be sure to discuss it with your paediatrician. If there seems to be a concern with your child’s vision or eye health, that is when you will want to seek additional help from an Optometrist. When detected early, eye disease can be very treatable.
While there are many factors to consider and to aid you in finding the eye care professional that is right for you, it is important to find an Optometrist that you feel you can connect with and trust. Take the time to do research and determine what you are looking for in an eye care professional, and you are sure to be able to find the right fit for you and your family.
How to Find the Best Optometrist and Choose the Best Eye Doctor Near Me in Toronto
Helpful Resources About Optometry and Optometrist in Ontario, Canada
Optometry in Wikipedia
Accreditation Council on Optometric Education
The University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science
School of Optometry – University of Montreal
Canadian Examiners in Optometry
College of Optometrists of Ontario
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Ontario Association of Optometrists