Doctors of Optometry are your partners in providing a wide range of primary eye care services, including:
- full oculo-visual assessments
- contact lens services
- low-vision services
- urgent and emergent assessments of red eyes, foreign bodies and other ocular and visual symptoms
- monitoring ocular side effects associated with chronic systemic conditions and
- the assessment of ocular signs and symptoms of systemic medications with ocular side effects.
Using a variety of specialized equipment, Doctors of Optometry can closely observe the workings and appearance of the exterior and interior of the eye. Equipment found in today’s optometric clinic includes: slit-lamp biomicroscopes with digital video documentation capabilities; fundus cameras for monitoring retinal changes; topographers for providing detailed mapping of the corneal surface – particularly useful for monitoring changes following refractive or cataract surgery; tonometers for measuring intra-ocular pressures; and computerized visual fields for testing peripheral vision to detect changes such as those brought on by strokes or glaucoma.
Expanded scope of practice
In 2012, amendments to the Optometrists Regulation took effect allowing BC Doctors of Optometry to prescribe medications to treat glaucoma - an eye disease that often has no symptoms and may result in permanent blindness.
In 2009, qualified B.C. Doctors of Optometry were able prescribe medications to treat certain eye conditions such as infections, allergies, injuries and inflammations, and to remove superficial foreign bodies and provide lacrimal dilation and irrigation.
The types of medication Doctors of Optometry can prescribe include miotics, mydriatics, cycloplegics, topical anti-allergy agents, topical anti-bacterial agents, topical anti-viral agents, topical corticosteroids and topical anesthetics, or any combination of these.
This expanded scope of practice, under the Health Professions Act, allows Doctors of Optometry to join our North American colleagues in providing services that utilize our education and training.
For British Columbians, this means timely and convenient assessment and treatment of ocular concerns. A referral is not required to visit a B.C. Doctor of Optometry; patients can simply call and make an appointment.
B.C. Doctors of Optometry welcome this change and look forward to working with physicians, pharmacists and other specialists in providing the residents of B.C. with the best care possible. This co-operation allows for more timely attention and better outcomes.
Health professionals who would like to find out more about how to work together with Doctors of Optometry are encouraged to contact a local BCAO Doctor of Optometry.
Doctors of Optometry require seven to eight years of post-secondary education to obtain their professional designation: Doctor of Optometry (OD).
Educational requirements typically include:
- A minimum of three years of undergraduate education, preferably in the sciences
- A four-year university program in optometry, accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education
- An increasing number of Doctors of Optometry choose to do an additional year of residency training upon completion of their Doctor of Optometry degree
- Upon completion of the course in Optometry, the graduate is required to satisfy the provincial board requirements where the practice is to be established. Included in this process is a national examination administered by the Canadian Examiners in Optometry. Licensure by the provincial or territorial governing body is required. These requirements ensure the public receives the highest standards of optometric care.