COVID-19 Update - Effective 28/07/2020 - Click Here for More Details

Five Myths about Visiting Your Local Optometrist

We are constantly bombarded by “facts” on social media, the internet. Then we are told different things among our friends and family. It is challenging to decide what is best for your eyes with all these conflicting information. Every day, we advise our patients regarding their eye health, and we’ve uncovered five common misunderstandings about your optometry visit.

Myth #1: You are required to buy glasses every time you visit your optometrist

Think back to your last visit to your local optometrist in Canberra. What was the reason you made the appointment? And did you buy any glasses at your previous visit? In our earlier blogs, we’ve talked about it may not be necessary for you to update your glasses every time you visit your Optometrist. (For our previous blog post discussing prescription changes and vision, click on this link: https://capitaleye.com.au/will-updating-my-prescription-improve-my-vision/).

At Capital Eye, we discuss the benefits and the necessities of updating your prescription lenses. And not all visits will leave you spending on a new pair of glasses unnecessarily. The reason we advise our patients to have their eyes routinely checked is to ensure their eye health is still at its optimal. This allows any early risk factors for diagnoses of any eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma are managed promptly before it affects their vision.

Quite often, if your visit to your Canberra optometrist is routine, meaning you’re not having any troubles with your vision, most likely there won’t be a need to purchase another pair of glasses. However, you might find your pair of spectacles has seen better days, lenses are scratched, and the frames are falling apart.

Not to say that there are glasses shops which sells you glasses, and perhaps they have an in-store optometrist that would check the prescription of your eyes for free of charge. In this circumstance, it’s similar to going to your hairdresser and asking him/her if you needed a haircut (!).

Myth #2: It’s ok to change your optometrist routinely especially if you’ve had a bad experience

Whether it is your first ever visit your local Optometrist in Canberra or you’re a frequent patient of the practice, one bad experience is often enough for you to turn away from ever having your eyes checked again. Your Optometrist is a registered health practitioner regulated by the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Your experience may reflect on the communication between yourself and the Optometrist. Your optometrist may not have explained the tests they are conducting and the importance of those tests. But they still have your best interest at heart. It is essential you find an optometrist that you connect and build a rapport with. It is a longterm relationship you want to develop so your optometrist can detect any early changes compared to your previous visit. (For our previous blog post advising what to consider when choosing your optometrist; click on this link; https://capitaleye.com.au/welcome-to-capital-eye-what-to-consider-when-choosing-an-optometrist/ ).

Myth #3: I don’t need an eye check because my vision is fine

You have general health checks with your GP routinely. You have regular dental check-ups. Not to say you have any problems with your general health or any dental issues, but it is to ensure you’re healthy and living at your best. Having regular eye exams is just that; to reduce your risks of preventable blindness. For patients with no vision issues, it is still important to have routine eye examinations. We’ve written a blog post on how frequent you should visit your optometrist. To find out more, click on https://capitaleye.com.au/when-you-should-see-an-optometrist/.

Myth #4: You can make “mistakes” when choosing which lens is clearer during my eye test

We all think that our prescription isn’t as precise when we pick up our glasses because maybe we’ve said the wrong thing when your optometrist asks you which lens is clearer between one or two. At the beginning of the test, we’ve most likely had a look at what you’ve prescribed with at your last visit. We do an objective measure of your prescription. That is to determine your prescription based on the shape and function of your eyes either by manually (shining a light into your eyes) or by a computer (autorefractor), where you look at a blurry hot air balloon at the end of the road.

The process of asking you which lens is clearer allows a precision titration of your prescription taking in other factors such as your comfort of vision, and how you use your glasses (i.e. either for the computer or driving). This process is triple checked before your prescription is finalised. If your glasses aren’t up to your expectations, at first, you may query your prescription. However, there are multiple factors such as the fitting of your optical lenses and vertex distances which we would need to consider besides your prescription alone. We are all human and prone to errors. We may make errors from time to time, but it is doubtful due to your responses during the test.

Myth #5: All eye tests from optometrists are “free.”

As the saying goes, “nothing is free.” Indeed, nothing is truly free of costs. There are overheads for running a clinic, and every practice has different business models to keep their clinic operating viably. In Australia, we are lucky to have rebates for eye tests through the Medicare system. Some clinics may choose to “bulk-bill” in which they accept the published Medicare rebates as remuneration.

Medicare rates are minimal, and optometry clinics that solely rely on Medicare bulk-billing payments will struggle to survive without the revenue generated from glasses sales. This may reflect or incorporated in the costs of prescription glasses sales, or the tendency to “push” for sale further to Myth #1 mentioned above. This is not always the case as quality comes at a cost; there is no way of providing our top German-designed Rodenstock lenses with unmatched comfort and clarity of vision at no-gap.

Some optometry clinics may try to compensate for the low rebate from Medicare by increasing the patient numbers seen per day or the volume. As you can start to picture, increasing the volume, shortens the consult time and ultimately impacts on the quality of service that is delivered for the patient.

Furthermore, there are other optometry testing that isn’t covered by Medicare, or it is outside the Medicare schedule. These auxiliary tests such as digital retinal scans, OCT, topography and specific contact lens fits are an essential part of providing you with a complete ocular health assessment. As you can imagine, with the added cost of these types of equipment and without further public funding, private optometry clinics which provide these types of services would often attract an additional fee.

The Bottom Line

If you are caught buying glasses every time you visit your optometrist. Stop and ask yourself why you have been doing so yearly. If you routinely change your optometrist, ultimately you’ll get different opinions and could make it challenging to manage your ocular conditions. You should have routine eye examinations even if you have no problems with your vision; just like a regular dental check-up to prevent anything nasty and costly treatment down the line. Although it is an eye exam, we don’t expect you to make the “right” choice when your optometrist asks you to pick the clearest lens. Don’t put too much thought into it. The process is triple checked. Your optometrists are trained to respond to your choices. If you’re in any doubt, discuss this with your optometrist, and they are only more than happy to help and clarify the issue for you.