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News : Apr 22 2010

Alarming Changes to Eye Care Legislation in BC

Dear Patient,

I would normally never bother my patients and involve them in a political drama, but the B.C. government is proposing alarming changes to eye care legislation that could start a precedent, putting all Canadian’s eyes and vision at risk.

In essence, the B.C. Health Minister is proposing to almost deregulate the eye care professionals and bring the standard of care in this province to that mostly seen in third world countries!

Opticians will be allowed to ‘sight test’, which involves checking the patient’s prescription, without ANY form of eye health assessment! My own experience as an optometrist has shown me that this is a very dangerous precedent, indeed. Most of the eye diseases I find are in patients who have no symptoms whatsoever. Over the 27 years I have been in practice, the changes in technology and treatment have allowed me to prevent devastating vision loss in almost all of my patients. If the regulations go through in B.C., many patients would forgo a regular complete eye health assessment, assuming that a ‘sight test’ is all that is needed. This would needlessly increase the rate of blindness in this province.

The B.C. government intends to enact these legislative changes on May 1st, so time is of the essence. So far, the health minister is ignoring the pleas of the optometrists, medical doctors and the CNIB to stop this legislation. Apparently, he is making the changes only to appease an internet contact lens retailer and keep this company prospering in B.C. Exchanging the visual health of B.C. residents for the financial health of a contact lens company hardly seems like a fair trade to me!

If you have a few minutes to spare, I would ask that all of our practice patients whose eyesight (or even life) has been spared as a result of a complete eye health assessment to visit either of these websites and let your voice be known. It appears that the only thing that may sway this health minister is a public outcry.

Post a message on the “Speak out for Eye Health” Facebook page and write on the wall:

Speak out for Eye Health Facebook page

or

Send a message directly to the B.C. government at:

http://www.optom.on.ca/members_voice/

or

For more information about the proposed legislation, visit the Canadian Association of Optometrists website at:

http://www.opto.ca/en/media/bc_regulations.html

I thank you in advance for your participation in this most worthwhile campaign!

Most Sincerely,

Dr. Toby Mandelman, Optometrist (on behalf of all the doctors and staff at the Bedford Eye Care Centre)