Eye emergencies can be alarming. With blurred vision or foreign objects stuck in your eye, you may think you need to run to the hospital.
But there is another option for medical treatment you may not be aware of.
Optometrists can be at the ready on short notice.
Workplace injuries or even sudden eye irritations can be seen and even treated by an optometrist.
“Whether you think you have an eye infection, your eyes [are] inflamed, your vision changes suddenly, or if you get something in your eye, [come see us],” optometrist Dr. Mansoor Choudhry said. “It doesn’t really make sense, especially to us, if you’re going to the emergency room. It could take a couple of hours [there].”
Optometrists also have the tools to see into your eyes and extract foreign objects, which are resources family doctors don’t always have.
“They have a slit lamp, which we don’t have here,” family physician Dr. Dorcas Kennedy said. “Plus they can remove the foreign body, they can decide if it needs any further followup, for the foreign body [and] all kinds of other eye-related disorders.”
And optometrists can even refer patients to a specialist.
“If we feel it’s necessary to see an ophthalmologist or even another sub-specialist, like a retinologist or sometimes a glaucoma specialist, or whatever the specialty may be, we can do that directly ourselves,” Choudhry said.
In addition to the above, optometrists are also there to assist with further patient care.
“We do prescribe more than just contacts and glasses,” Choudhry said. “So if there are any eye infections, we can prescribe antibiotics for that that are in drop form, or we can even [give] oral antibiotics.”
But what about the cost? Alberta Health Services (AHS) covers family doctor visits, but do they cover emergency eye appointments?
Choudhry says Alberta Health covers any medically necessary visits, with services including retinal detachment, eye infections, foreign objects in your eye, and sudden change in vision, to name a few.
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