optometristOntario's optometrists are launching an urgent appeal to the Ontario government to end the 30-year neglect in funding for eye care. This chronic underfunding, coupled with the devastating impact of COVID-19 on optometrists' ability to see patients, threatens Ontarians' access to these essential health services.

With strict physical distancing and infection control guidelines, optometrists are returning to work with patient volumes reduced by 50 percent, resulting in the loss of nearly two million comprehensive eye exams over the next 12 months.

In our area, OHIP patients can make up over 75 percent of our practices. Senior patients often have complex eye issues that require more care and therefore more chair time. It is simply not possible to continue subsidize half the cost of these exams out of our own pockets, to the tune of 173 million dollars every year.

This chronic OHIP underfunding coupled with the government's unwillingness to negotiate is jeopardizing eye care in Ontario, especially considering the new COVID-19 restrictions. Funding for eye exams has not even kept up with the Bank of Canada's inflation rate, never mind the change in technology and scope of practice that we've experienced since 1989 when all Ontarians were insured annually.

We are asking for the public's support by going to SaveEyeCare.ca and signing the petition to tell the Ontario government to reform OHIP for a more sustainable eye care system.

Michelle Lafleur, OD
Owen Sound
Ontario Association of Optometrists