Canadians are neglecting their vision benefits – survey

More than half of Canadians who have vision insurance benefits are not planning on using them

Canadians are neglecting their vision benefits – survey

A new survey from Specsavers, conducted by Leger and in partnership with the Canadian Council of the Blind, found that 38 percent of Canadian adults admit to being overdue for their routine eye exam, while more than half of those with vision benefits don't intend to use them before they expire.

“It is important for people to understand that certain sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration actually begin during middle age. These conditions can progress without noticeable early warning signs, meaning that by the time patients experience symptoms or notice a change to vision, the disease may already be advanced,” says Naomi Barber, clinical services director at Specsavers.

The survey found that 35 percent of Canadians would only book an eye exam if they were experiencing vision problems, and 46 percent would be motivated to increase the frequency of their eye exams if they noticed worsening vision over time.

Barber notes that 75 percent of vision loss is “preventable and treatable” through regular eye exams, including Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), a 3D eye scan that aids in detecting conditions like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration in their early stages.

“It is very concerning that so many Canadians with vision health benefits don't plan to use them before they expire. Over 1.2 million Canadians are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted, and the number of Canadians living with vision loss is growing every day. It is crucial for Canadians to have comprehensive eye exams so that vision loss can be prevented by treating eye diseases as soon as possible,” says Dr. Keith Gordon, senior research officer at Canadian Council of the Blind.

55 percent of Canadian adults have health insurance plans covering optical needs, with typical allowances ranging from $50-$100 for eye exams and an average of $200 for glasses or contact lenses every two years. Despite this coverage, the survey suggests a lack of awareness and proactive engagement in using these benefits.

“As benefits get closer to expiring, we are encouraging Canadians to get an eye exam and to have conversations with friends and family about prioritizing eye health,” adds Barber.