News Release: North Bay (November 12, 2015) – On Tuesday, MPP Victor Fedeli visited Dr. Gary Pearce’s practice to discuss eye health in Ontario. This event was a part of Optometry Day, an initiative in which optometrists across Ontario hosted Members of Provincial Parliament in their offices to give them insight into the world of eye health and vision care.
During the visit, Fedeli participated in a tour of the office, met with patients and discussed optometrists’ contributions to Ontario’s health-care system. Optometrists are highly trained health professionals in all aspects of primary eye care including urgent care and low vision. Based on this, and their availability in Ontario communities, optometrists are best positioned to be the first source for all eye health and vision care needs.
“Optometrists provide critical services that ensure the health of residents in Nipissing. Given more than 2.2 million Ontarians live with one of the major eye diseases, it’s always a privilege to meet with them and thank them for their commitment to our community,” said Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.
The tour also included discussion of four key areas in which optometrists can provide valuable services for Ontarians, as examined in the white paper Optimizing Optometry’s Role in Ontario, created by the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO). This evidence-based report focuses on the provision of primary eye care in Ontario relating to urgent care, disease prevention and management and childrens’ and seniors’ vision. It highlights that:
· In 2014 alone, there were more than 100,000 unnecessary eye-related visits to the emergency department, leading to $17.6 million in OHIP fees and delays in patient care.
· More than two million Ontarians live with at least one of the four major eye diseases: glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. In three years alone, this will cost the province $5.58 billion (2014-2016).
· Only 10 per cent of children under four, and 14 per cent of children under six, have had an OHIP-insured comprehensive eye exam, even though 80 per cent of learning is visual.
· By age 65, one in three people will have some form of vision-reducing eye disease, which doubles the risk of falls and triples the risk of depression. Seniors with vision loss are also admitted to long-term care three years earlier.
Ontario’s optometrists are ready to partner with government, other health care professionals and organizations to provide better care at better value, closer to home. “I was thrilled to have a chance to host Gilles,” says Dr. Gary Pearce. “Providing services to a broad range of people in this community, from toddlers to seniors, is a point of pride both for me and for those who work with me in my practice. It was an honour to be able to show this through our Optometry Day event.”