How do I find an optometrist?
To find an optometrist in your locality, suburb or town, you can use the Find an Optometrist function on our website (bottom right hand). You can search for an optometrist by name, suburb or post code. You can also look in the Yellow Pages.
How do I know that my optometrist is qualified?
All optometrists who practice in Australia must have completed a university degree course. Many optometrists have additional qualifications. Once they have completed their degree, optometrists MUST be registered by the Optometry Board of Australia in order to practise optometry in Australia. This means:
they have successfully completed a recognised and accredited university optometry degree, in Australia or overseas, including clinical training;
they have professional indemnity insurance;
they are required to undertake ongoing education and professional development; and
they are required to keep up to date if they return to the profession after a period of leave.
If a person calling themselves an optometrist is NOT registered by the Board, they are not legally able to practise optometry in Australia. If you are concerned that a practitioner is not registered, you should contact the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for further information.
Is the Optometry Victoria part of or the same as the Optometry Board of Australia? Do you deal with registration and related issues?
No. We are unrelated to the Optometry Board of Australia. Optomery Victoria is a member-based organisation that provides support, training, information and education and professional services to optometrists. More than 90% of optometrists in the State are members of Optometry Victoria.
Membership of Optometrists Victoria is entirely voluntary. Optometrists do not have to be members of our organisation in order to practise optometry.
Optometry Victoria does not register or accredit optometrists, or have any authority over the rules and regulations of practising optometry. The registration of optometrists is the responsibility of the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA). The OBA is an authority established by the Federal government to oversee the practise of optometry in Australia. It is part of a national health practitioners registration scheme introduced in 2010, and regulating health practitioners in professions including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and optometry.
I have a question/concern about my optometrist or my glasses/lenses. Who is the best person to talk to about it?
Optometry Victoria does not register or oversee optometrists, and we are not a formal complaints handling body. We don't mediate in individual cases, and we can't provide people with specific legal or clinical advice or comment.
We can, however, be a source of general information or assistance, and can often help you clarify general questions you might have about the purchase of your glasses or lenses, or the services you have received. We know what is generally expected. If we can't answer your question directly, or if you have a concern that requires independent further assessment, we can refer you on to the appropriate organisation or authority.
In many instances, we find that the best way to handle or resolve any questions or concerns you might have about the service you have received from your optometrist is to discuss it with them directly. More often than not, we find concerns are readily resolved by discussion and negotiation.
Very rarely, an issue might entail questions of clinical care or the behaviour of a practitioner, or you might be genuinely unable to resolve a dispute relating to the purchase or functioning of a product.
There are health care and consumer organisations in Victoria that have been established directly to assist people in resolving problems relating to health care services, or the purchase of products including glasses. These services can assess your case, and may be able to provide further advice or assistance.
My child has been referred to an optometrist for a vision problem. How do I find an optometrist that is able to examine my child?
All optometrists are trained and qualified to examine children's eyes. Your local optometrist will be able to carry out all the tests that are needed to establish whether your child has a vision problem, and whether further tests or treatment are required. Your local optometrist can prescribe glasses if this is what your child needs. He or she will also able to refer your child if necessary to a specialist children's eye doctor (paediatric ophthalmologist). There are also some optometrists with special or additional experience and training in some particular kinds of children's vision problems. Your local optometrist can refer your child if needed.
Your child is able to be tested under Medicare.
It's been suggested that my child needs to see a 'behavioural optometrist'. What is a behavioural optometrist, and how do I find one?
A 'behavioural optometrist' is an optometrist who will assess and treat certain kinds of children's vision problems by considering a range of factors, including visual, motor and perception skills. This may sometimes include a course of special exercises and training designed by the optometrist to assist your child with developing their vision skills. This is called 'vision therapy'. Referral to a 'behavioural optometrist' does not mean that your child has a behavioural problem or disability.
To find an optometrist who practices vision therapy, we recommend you contact the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists. Their contact details, as well as a searchable list of members, can be found at: www.acbo.org.au .
Eye care services
I'm on a low income, and I've been told there's a service in Victoria where I am able to get glasses at low cost. How do I contact them?
A: Victoria has a unique public health program for eye care, funded by the Victorian Government and provided through the Australian College of Optometry. Permanent residents of Victoria who have a pensioner concession card, or who have held a health care concession card for at least six months, have access to low cost glasses and contact lenses. Consultation fees for eye examinations are normally bulk billed so will be of no cost to the patient.
Residents in the Melbourne metropolitan area can attend the clinic at the Australian College of Optometry (ACO) in Carlton, or one of their other sites located in community health facilities across Melbourne including:
For people in rural areas, low cost services are provided by optometrists and ophthalmologists who work in private practice and are subsidised by the Victorian Eyecare Scheme (VES). Residents should contact the ACO for an application form. Once you have filled out this form and sent it in, you will receive a booklet containing a list of approved eye specialists in country areas. The VES is available at many locations around rural and regional Victoria.
Contact the Australian College of Optometry on (03) 9349 7400 or at www.aco.org.au.
Are optometry eye exams covered by Medicare?
If you hold a Medicare card, most eye tests can be covered by Medicare. Some less common or specific tests may be not be covered, and may attract a patient fee. You should always ask your optometrist to clarify before any procedure or examination if cost is a concern. You should feel free to ask why they want you to have the additional test, if you don't understand why you have been asked, or if they haven't explained it. You can also say no to any tests if you don't think they are necessary or do not wish them to proceed.
Glasses and contact lenses are not covered by Medicare. Some private health insurance cover does enable you to claim for glasses. You should check this with your individual provider. Bear in mind that your private health cover may not cover all kinds of lenses or glasses. You may well need to pay a gap fee.
I want to find an optometrist who knows a lot about contact lenses. How can I find out about this?
All optometrists are trained and qualified to prescribe and fit contact lenses. However, prescribing and fitting contact lenses can take some time, and from time to time, people with contact lenses might have needs or conditions requiring particular experience or knowledge.
Many optometrists take a special additional interest in contact lenses, and some practices have a strong focus on providing care for contact lens patients, and in managing conditions such as kerataconus.
Many optometrists with a strong interest in contact lenses are members of the Cornea and Contact Lens Association of Australia. The CCLSA isn't an additional qualification, but it is a professional group for people who are particularly interested in providing contact lens care, and is a great place to start if you are looking for help with a contact lens issue.
The website has an Optometrist Practice Finder for finding members in your area. Visit www.cclsa.org.au
I need to find an optometrist who will do home visits.
A: Not all optometrists make home visits, as the equipment and time required may make it impractical to do so. If you have a regular optometrist, we suggest you start by asking them, as some people may do home visits if you are a regular patient. If you do not have a regular optometrist, you should start by checking with optometrists in your local area. You can find their contact details by searching by suburb or postcode.There are some limited home visit options that may be available, dependent on the circumstances. Please contact us to discuss on a case by case basis.