For many, vision loss is a highly feared disability. The good news is that it can be treated or prevented in 75% of cases with early detection and treatment. Mediaplanet connected with Dr. Michael Dennis, President of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, who shares his insights into why regular, comprehensive eye exams are critical for all Canadians.

Mediaplanet (MP): What is the biggest misconception Canadians have when it comes to vision health?

Dr. Michael Dennis (MD): The idea that having 20/20 vision is equal to having good vision health. Canadians need to be much more aware of their eye health and vision care, which begins with a visit to an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam (CEE). A CEE looks at the entire eye and visual system and can detect eye diseases and disorders as well as other systemic health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.

MP: How important is it for those who are already blind or have low vision to continue to visit an eye care professional?

MD: Patients living with low vision want to retain whatever level of vision they have. An optometrist works with low-vision patients to develop a treatment plan that reflects where they are on the vision continuum. If a patient's vision loss is beyond treatment, an optometrist will recommend vision rehabilitation, referring them to Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada for more appropriate assistance.

MP: Why are optometrists an important part of an eye care team?

MD: As primary eye care specialists, optometrists are the first eye health professionals that patients see who are uniquely well-positioned to deliver cost-effective early detection, prevention, and treatment of eye diseases and disorders. There are approximately 6,000 optometrists across Canada, located in almost every community and available for timely consultations.