TORONTO — Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones is defending changes to optometry coverage that reduce the frequency of eye exams for healthy seniors, saying a new agreement strengthens care for people with eye conditions.
The province announced Friday that it had reached a funding agreement with optometrists that increases some payments to them, but reduces some coverage for patients.
As of Sept. 1, people aged 65 and older will be covered for one eye exam every 18 months, instead of one a year, unless they have a condition affecting their eyes such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetes.
Jones says the agreement involves “fine tuning,” questioning whether it makes more sense for more money to be spent on a healthy 65-year-old with no eye issues or a young patient with diabetes.
For patients with diabetes, a documented history of the disease is currently required in order for the patient to receive an OHIP-insured eye exam, but as of Sept. 1 optometrists can make a clinical assessment themselves.
Optometrists withdrew from performing provincially insured eye services from September to November 2021 amid a dispute over the amount they were being reimbursed for eye exams, and say the overall funding increase is similar to what the province was offering at the time, but is being redistributed in a way that “makes more sense.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.
The Canadian Press