The Alberta College of Optometrists wants the province to allow optometrists to practice to the full scope of their training. (Photo from Facebook)

The Alberta College of Optometrists wants the province to allow optometrists to practice to the full scope of their training. (Photo from Facebook)

Optometrists calls on province to expand services in rural Alberta

Survey shows rural residents should have better access to eye care services

Improving access to optometry in rural Alberta, and allowing trained optometrists to treat conditions like glaucoma, are two easy, and affordable ways Alberta can strengthen its health-care system, says the Alberta College of Optometrists.

The college is asking the province to let optometrists help more people through limited laser and superficial skin procedures.

College president Dr. Rob Kloepfer said allowing optometrists to practice the full scope of their training frees up specialists like ophthalmologists to focus on the most serious conditions.

“Optometrists have the skills, training and safety protocols in place to treat many more people for conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and skin tags, right in their community,” Kloepfer said.

A recent survey of 754 Albertans commissioned by the ACO from One Persuasion found:

• 21 per cent of rural residents have to travel more than 50 km to receive eye care, which is four times further than Calgarians and 10 times further than Edmontonians.

• 63 per cent of rural residents agree their communities should have better access to eye care services than they do today.

• 88 per cent of Albertans would prefer to receive specialized eye care in their local community and from optometrists.

• Men and women between 18 and 34 experience the most significant barriers to accessing services.

“We know Albertans who live outside Edmonton or Calgary have to travel further and wait longer to access health care services — from day-to-day treatments and surgeries, right up to seeing a specialist. Optometry offers a safe and effective solution to these challenges.”

The Alberta College of Optometrists regulates more than 880 optometrists who practice in more than 100 communities across Alberta.

The college says optometrists provide the most broad-based, easily accessible, and cost-effective health services in eye care and do more than 80 per cent of comprehensive eye exams in the province.



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