Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Annual eye examinations for Ontarians with diabetes continue to be funded by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan

Ontario Association of Optometrists reminds Ontarians of the importance of annual eye exams for people with diabetes

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, January 9, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) is reminding Ontarians that routine eye examinations for people with diabetes continue to be covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) regardless of their age, and that a referral for this service is not required.

A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that when routine eye examinations for healthy adults were delisted from OHIP in 2004, there was an 8.7 per cent decrease in the test for people living with diabetes, despite the fact that annual eye examinations remained covered for this population.i

"For people living with diabetes, the consequences of neglecting eye health can be especially severe. The OAO continues to work with the provincial government and other partners to develop an integrated approach that ensures patients with diabetes receive proper eye health care as part of overall diabetes management," said Dr. Farooq A. Khan, President, OAO. "The OAO urges people living with diabetes to call and schedule eye examinations with a local Doctor of Optometry at least once every year."

Eye Health Risks Associated with Diabetes

Diabetic retinopathy is the most damaging eye condition caused by diabetes. Although vision loss due to the condition can be prevented, unfortunately, many people with diabetes do not know that they have damage from retinopathy until it is too late. Diabetic retinopathy causes the blood vessels of the retina (inner layer of the back of the eye) to leak, swell or develop abnormally. It is the leading cause of blindness among Canadians between the ages of 30 and 69, and will be developed by the majority of people with diabetes within 20 years of having the condition.

Although prevention of this devastating condition is best accomplished by maintaining normal blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels, receiving a comprehensive eye examination by a Doctor of Optometry at least once a year is essential to catch retinal changes as early as possible, and ultimately help preserve vision through a variety of treatment options available.

Doctors of Optometry, widely available in local communities all across Ontario, are the primary health care providers trained to diagnose and manage damaging eye conditions caused by diabetes. To find an optometrist in your community, please visit:

About the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO)

The OAO, founded in 1909, is the voluntary professional organization representing more than 1,500 optometrists in Ontario. The OAO is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of eye health, and helping Ontario's Doctors of Optometry provide the highest standard of eye health and vision care.

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