Enactment of Bill 171 by McGuinty government will improve patient access to eye health care services

    TORONTO, June 1 /CNW/ - The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO)
hails the passage of Bill 171, the Health System Improvements Act - which
contains an amendment to the Optometry Act to expand the scope of practice for
Ontario's optometrists to include prescribing medications to treat diseases of
the eye - as a cost-effective means to increase the capacity of Ontario's
health care system.
    "Allowing optometrists to prescribe medications to treat diseases of the
eye will enable patients to better access community-based eye health and
vision care services from a single qualified practitioner. Effective
management of health care human resources is critical in the context of
Ontario's physician shortage, particularly among specialists such as
ophthalmologists," said OAO President Dr. Derek MacDonald.
    Optometrists undergo extensive training in the treatment and management
of eye diseases and disorders, but until now have been unable to practice to
the full extent of their training in Ontario. This legislation brings Ontario
in line with the 96 per cent of the North American population that has access
to this level of care.
    "The Ontario Association of Optometrists commends the government for
recognizing the importance of the primary eye health and vision care services
provided by Ontario's optometrists in providing access to a broader range of
treatment options for our patients," continued Dr. MacDonald.
    Bill 171 addresses the recommendation to permit optometrists to prescribe
medications to treat diseases of the eye put forth by the Health Professions
Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) in April 2006, after an exhaustive review.
HPRAC also advised the development of a collaborative strategy for the
co-management and treatment of glaucoma, a recommendation that Ontario's
optometrists welcome, as they are increasingly being called upon to provide
complex care to patients living with this chronic condition for whom delays in
treatment may result in irreversible, but preventable, vision loss.
    OAO will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
and the College of Optometrists of Ontario to develop the necessary
regulations to ensure Ontarians benefit broadly from the new legislation.

    About the OAO

    Optometrists are the primary providers of eye health and vision care in
Ontario. Founded in 1909, the Ontario Association of Optometrists is the
professional voluntary organization that creates the vision and articulates
the voice of almost 1,200 registered optometrists in Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Christine Parsons, Ontario Association of
Optometrists, Tel: (905) 826-3522, Cell: (416) 575-3954, cparsons@optom.on.ca

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Ontario Association of Optometrists

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