Optometry Week 2017: a glance into the world of optometry
With 24 MPP visits complete and even more underway, this year’s Optometry Week gave members of the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) the opportunity to bring their Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) into the world of optometry.
Though optometrists are the primary eye health care providers across the province, many Ontarians are unaware of all the services their optometrist can provide. Optometry Week, consisting on average of 30-minute meetings between OAO members and their local MPP, serves to strengthen an MPP’s understanding of the value optometry brings to Ontarians.
One such meeting was held at Trenton Eye Clinic in Trenton, where OAO member Dr. Bernie Uhlmann hosted MPP Lou Rinaldi.
“I was able to show my MPP, Lou Rinaldi, around the office. He already seemed to know a great deal about optometry but was intrigued by what we as a profession need from our government,” stated Dr. Uhlmann.
With help from OAO, members were fully equipped to share pertinent information an MPP may need when discussing important optometric issues at Queen’s Park.
“Our MPP found the information very helpful. He said it was exactly what he needed to gain a clearer picture of the profession, in order to have impactful discussions about optometry,” stated Dr. Uhlmann.
Many MPPs also find these visits helpful because they are unaware of an optometrist’s scope of practice.
“MPP Monte McNaugton didn’t know that we provide urgent care, and the financial burden the government faces when patients go to the emergency room instead of visiting an optometrist,” stated Dr. Tina Morowat, from Teeple Optometry in Arkona. “Since we’re in a rural area, this visit was important to show our MPP how much we do for our community.”
Dr. Carla Eamon, from Dr. Carla Eamon Optometrists in Kemptville, experienced a similar instant in her meeting with her MPP: “MPP Steve Clark knew most of the common things an optometrist does, like refraction and comprehensive eye exams. But he didn’t know we have the training to examine infants.”
Although it may seem nerve-wracking to speak with local politicians, these informal meetings give OAO members the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns, which MPPs look for from members of their community.
“Whether you’re political or not, these visits are a teaching moment where we can educate and show our MPPs and leaders the true value of optometry,” stated Dr. Morowat.
Indeed, many MPPs have shared their appreciation for optometry following their meeting. Progressive Conservative Health Critic MPP Jeff Yurek issued a media release to assert his support of optometry, while Deputy Leader of the Opposition MPP Steve Clark delivered a statement in the legislature about the importance of optometry and the need for scope of practice expansion.
On the whole, this year’s Optometry Week was a successful opportunity for OAO members to voice their opinion on their role in Ontario’s healthcare landscape, and to show their MPP the value they provide.
“These visits show our MPPs that optometrists are a valuable resource in their communities, and it shows us that our MPPs are listening to what we have to say,” stated Dr. Eamon.
Thank you to all OAO members who took the time to participate in this year’s Optometry Week in order to make a difference in the profession!