Canadians are Skipping Regular Eye Exams Despite Available Vision Benefits

Data shows 1 in 4 Canadians who do not wear glasses have not had an eye exam in over 10 years, as almost half (46%) of Canadians who have vision benefits say they do not plan to use available coverage in 2022

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2022 /CNW/ - Canadians who have unused vision benefits are urged to have a comprehensive eye exam before many annual benefits expire at the end of the year as Specsavers data reveals a concerning percentage of Canadians may be at risk for undetected eye disease because of missed eye exam appointments.

A Specsavers professional performs an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) on a patient. (CNW Group/Specsavers Canada)
A Specsavers professional performs an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) on a patient. (CNW Group/Specsavers Canada)

The results of a recent Specsavers Canadian Eye Exam Survey, conducted by Leger, included insights into the behaviour of Canadians and their habits when it comes to their eye health. One-in-four Canadians who do not wear corrective lenses have not had an eye exam in at least 10 years, including 10% of Canadians who have never had an eye exam. The reasons for not going for an eye exam more frequently include cost (33%) and no symptoms of vision loss (22%).1

"The findings are concerning because we know that many common eye diseases progress without symptoms and most vision loss is preventable and treatable when optometrists intervene early. With regular eye exams including Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) patients can receive comprehensive information about their eye health," says Naomi Barber, Director of Optometry, Specsavers Canada. "In the case of certain diseases, such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are minimal early warning signs, meaning that by the time patients experience symptoms or notice a change to vision, the disease may be already advanced."

As part of Specsavers' commitment to accessible eyecare, and to better facilitate early detection of sight-threatening diseases, Specsavers makes OCT technology available as part of every comprehensive eye exam conducted by independent optometrists at Specsavers locations. The 3D eye scan using OCT technology is non-invasive and only takes a few seconds, allowing optometrists to assess the intricate structures of the eyes to identify and manage eye conditions such as diabetes related eye disease and glaucoma.

Fifty-seven percent of Canadians who do not wear glasses say that vision worsening over time would cause them to increase the frequency of seeking eye exams. Yet, many eye diseases progress symptom-less and 75% of vision loss is preventable and treatable if caught early.2

Initial Specsavers data reveals that approximately one-in-three Canadians have risk factors or signs of potential eye disease that can be detected using OCT technology.3 Health Canada recommends a routine eye exam every two years, and every year for Canadians under 18 and over 65. Specsavers suggests Canadians determine their recommended eye exam frequency with their health care provider. Many provincial health care authorities provide additional coverage for those with underlying conditions.

Not all Canadians have access to vision benefits (39%) or are not aware of vision benefits (11%), but of those who do and are aware, almost half (46%) do not plan to use their coverage in 2022 for eye health or eye wear such as prescription glasses and contact lenses4.

"Eyecare is not necessarily a popular conversation around the dinner table but having these conversations with friends and family could really make a difference in improving health outcomes because early diagnosis is critical for effective treatment," said Barber. "Most vision loss is preventable and treatable if caught early."

In many provinces eye exams are covered for individuals under the age of 18 and over the age of 65 and for those with certain medical conditions or receiving social assistance. To learn more about each province visit:

Canadians seeking an eye exam can find a Specsavers location and book an appointment with an independent optometrist by visiting Specsavers.ca. Follow the Specsavers Facebook page for updates on store openings in your community.

Data Points – Canadian Eye Exam Frequency Surveys (Leger Survey – September and November, 2022):

  • While 80% of Canadians who wear glasses or contact lenses go for an eye exam every two years or less, only 46% of Canadians who do not wear glasses or contact lenses place the same importance on their eye health.

  • 16% of Canadians were over 31 years old when they had their first eye exam.

  • Canadians who do not wear glasses argue that deterrents, such as no eyesight issues or symptoms (28%), cost (29%), and inconvenience (10%) are reasons for putting off eye exams.

  • 39% of Canadians do not have vision or health benefits.

Methodology of Canadian Eye Exam Frequency Survey (Leger Survey – September, 2022)

An online survey of 1,512 Canadians was completed between September 23-25, 2022, using Leger's online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, a probability sample of 1,512 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Methodology of Canadian Eye Exam Frequency Survey (Leger Survey – November, 2022)

An online survey of 1544 Canadians was completed between November 4-6, 2022, using Leger's online panel.

No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 1544 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Specsavers Canada OCT Data:

From a sample of 8,200 British Columbians assessed by an independent optometrist at a Specsavers location between November 2021 and May 2022, 34% had risk factors or signs of eye disease detected or managed through use of OCT. This is based on the medical criteria for billing OCT through MSP (Medical Services Plan). Of the sample, optometrists detected and managed risk factors or signs of glaucoma in 23.5% of patients, and detected and managed risk factors or signs of diabetic retinopathy in 10.5% of patients.

About Specsavers:

Specsavers is an optometrist-owned and -led business that entered the Canadian market in late 2021. One year later, Canadians can have their eyes checked at over 30 independently owned optometrist practices across the country, in B.C., Alberta and most recently, Ontario.

Founded in the U.K. nearly 40 years ago by optometrist husband and wife team, Doug and Mary Perkins, there are now more than 2,500 Specsavers healthcare businesses across 11 countries serving over 41 million patients and customers. The brand announced its launch in Canada in 2021 and plans to open more than 200 locally owned locations across Canada within 2024. Specsavers is driven by its purpose of "changing lives through better sight" and aims to transform the way Canadians experience accessible eyecare by offering exceptional service, clinical equipment and expertise, as well as affordable and quality eyewear.

Please visit specsavers.ca to learn more. To read Specsavers international impact on improving health care, read the 2021/22 Annual Review.


1 Specsavers Canadian Eye Exam Survey. Leger. September 2022.


2 Report Card on Vision Health in Canada. Fighting Blindness Canada. October 2022.


3 Specsavers Canada OCT Data


4 Specsavers Canadian Eye Exam Survey. Leger. November 2022.

Specsavers Logo (CNW Group/Specsavers Canada)
Specsavers Logo (CNW Group/Specsavers Canada)

SOURCE Specsavers Canada

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