Questions

What is involved in an eye examination?

A full eye examination includes measurement of your vision along with a comprehensive examination of the health of your eyes. We use specialised portable equipment to assess both the front and the insides of your eyes, checking for cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other eye diseases. The examination is painless, mostly involving shining lights in your eyes. In most cases, mild eye drops will be used to widen your pupils so we can be sure nothing is missed.

We measure your vision to see if you could benefit from better glasses. If you do need new glasses, we carry a good range of quality frames for you to choose from.

Each individual has their own needs, and many people in nursing homes have limitations. We are experienced in adapting our examinations to fit each person’s needs. For instance, some people with dementia get confused by too many questions, so we use other tests that don’t require them to answer questions. Others have postural difficulties, or are too frail for some tests, so we adapt our examinations around those limitations too.

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Which homes do you visit?

A list of homes visited is here.

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Do I need a referral?

No referral is needed for an eye examination. Examinations are eligible for Medicare rebates. DVA Gold Card holders are covered for the basic examination cost, and also basic glasses and magnifiers.

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How do I book an eye examination?

Please see our Contact page, or speak to staff at your nursing home.

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What happens if I need new glasses?

We can do it all—we supply glasses, and magnifiers and reading lamps too. We carry a variety of frames you can choose from, and if you need glasses we’ll usually select a frame at the time of consultation. We will then put those frames aside, and provide you with a proper quote for your consideration. Once you let us know you want to go ahead, glasses usually take about 3-4 weeks, depending on when we’re next visiting your nursing home. When they’re ready, we deliver the glasses to you and adjust them to make sure they’re fitting perfectly.

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I’m a diabetic. Is there anything special I need to be doing for my eyes?

Absolutely. Regular examinations are even more important. In Australia, about one in three nursing home residents are diabetic. If you are diabetic, you should have your eyes checked periodically, even if you are seeing well. Diabetic eye disease can be blinding, but in its early stages (when it’s easiest to treat) it doesn’t have any effect on vision. NHMRC guidelines are that every diabetic should have their eyes examined (with dilated pupils) when first diagnosed and at least every two years after that, but most nursing home residents would have other health issues too so more frequent examinations would be appropriate. In most cases, diabetics in nursing homes should have a routine diabetic eye examination at least yearly.

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What happens if you need to send me to an eye specialist?

If your eye examination turns up something that requires specialist attention, we will discuss the situation with you. We can refer you directly to an eye specialist, and liaise with other parties (family, nursing home staff, GP, etc.) to arrange getting you to the best available eye specialist in the most appropriate way. Some conditions can be monitored in the home, if they are not too severe.

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I already see an eye specialist. Can you examine my eyes as well?

It depends on the situation, but it’s often worth discussing this with us or your specialist. Eye specialists (ophthalmologists) treat eye diseases, but often they expect there will be an optometrist looking after your functional vision (glasses, magnifiers, etc). We work in cooperation with most local ophthalmologists to make sure both aspects of your eye care are looked after. If your condition is stable (for example, well controlled glaucoma), we can sometimes arrange with the ophthalmologist to do some of the routine reviews at your nursing home so you don’t need to go out to their rooms so often.

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How much does an eye examination cost?

Eye examinations are claimable on Medicare, but generally not bulk billed, so we send an account. Once paid, you lodge the receipt with Medicare for a rebate. Fees are in line with the Optometry Australia schedule of recommended fees.

Veterans who are DVA Gold Card holders are covered for a basic eye examination in the home. There are some tests that neither DVA more Medicare has ever covered, such as digital retinal scans. If these are needed, there will be an separate charge to the veteran.

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How do you examine people with dementia?

Since we specialise in eye care for the elderly, we are quite used to examining patients with varying degrees of dementia, and we almost always get useful results. Depending on the person, we may use modified examination techniques similar to those developed for examining young children or others with communication difficulties.

We put a strong emphasis on communicating with families of patients with dementia, and make sure we discuss our findings with them. We are especially conscious of the need to discuss the situation with responsible others before making up glasses or taking other action.

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