Survey reveals 41% of Canadian seniors miss eye exams due to costs

Nearly half of Canadian seniors skip crucial eye exams because of eyewear expenses, despite insurance coverage

Survey reveals 41% of Canadian seniors miss eye exams due to costs

A survey conducted by Leger for Specsavers reveals that 41 percent of Canadian seniors are not current with their annual eye exams, despite provincial insurance coverage.  

The cost of eyewear has emerged as a significant barrier for some seniors, causing them to postpone these crucial assessments. This delay poses a risk as it can lead to undiagnosed eye conditions that may severely affect vision.   

Naomi Barber, Clinical Services director at Specsavers, emphasizes the comprehensive benefits of eye exams. “Eye exams are not just about getting a new prescription for glasses. Optometrists are equipped to detect the earliest signs of eye diseases,” she explains.  

She further notes that the guidance from optometrists ranges from managing daily eye discomforts to detecting diseases and ensuring that glasses suit an individual’s daily needs, all crucial for maintaining life quality through improved vision.   

The study also points out that half of the seniors lack vision health benefits, and a quarter have delayed or skipped renewing their eyewear prescriptions due to financial constraints.   

Seniors, at risk of health complications and more prone to eye health issues, are advised to have regular eye exams. However, one-in-five seniors are unaware of their family eye health history, which is essential for assessing the risk of diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).   

Jim Tokos, national president of the Canadian Council of the Blind, stresses the urgency of addressing these issues. “The number of Canadians living with vision loss is growing every day, and it's critical that we continue to bring to light the factors that may be putting one's vision at risk,” he says.  

Tokos highlights the necessity of early diagnosis for preserving sight and finds it unacceptable that financial concerns can delay essential, potentially sight-saving, treatments.   

Specsavers has responded by partnering with a network of independent optometrists who provide no-cost eye exams for seniors. These exams include Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), a 3D eye scan that enables early detection of serious eye diseases.  

Considering that 75 percent of vision loss is preventable and treatable, these regular assessments are crucial.   

Bill Moir, managing director of Specsavers Canada, asserts, “Canadian seniors deserve better.” He advocates for overcoming eyecare access barriers in Canada, ensuring seniors receive necessary exams. 

To support this, Specsavers has introduced a seniors' eyewear offer at all its locations nationwide, aiming to make eyewear more affordable and encourage timely eye exams.   

Moir also supports the implementation of a national eyecare strategy through the proposed Bill C-284, which he believes will significantly improve health outcomes for Canadians, especially seniors at risk for diseases like glaucoma and AMD.  

“A national eyecare strategy is the next important step in making healthcare accessible and affordable for all Canadians, and it aligns strongly with Specsavers' own vision of making eyecare and eyewear accessible to all,” he concludes.