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Your child’s teacher tells you they’re struggling to read the smartboard from the back of the classroom, you’re holding your book an inch from your nose to read in the evenings, your spouse is complaining their eyes will not stop itching this time of year and your elderly parent has been sent to a cataract specialist after their last eye exam. You are now up to your ears in opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists – here’s a quick guide to help you out!

Opticians & Optometrists & Ophthalmologists, Oh My!

Let’s talk about the differences between opticians, optometrists and Ophthalmologists. Each of these professions play an integral role in your eye health and knowing who’s who in the optometry world will help our staff direct you to the right person for the job!

Opticians – New frames, new lenses, quick fixes and lost nose pads are your Opticians specialties! Opticians are qualified dispensers of eyeglasses, and are trained to interpret your prescription, fit eyeglass frames and lenses, and provide lifestyle options that give you the best visual quality available (and make you look good in the process!).

Notice your glasses slipping down your nose, or accidentally fell asleep watching Netflix? Stop by any time to have an optician adjust or fix your glasses! Our certified opticians, Shelley and Chris, are available for all your eyeglass needs – no appointment necessary.

Optometrists – Think of your optometrist as the equivalent of a family doctor specifically for your eyes. Optometrists take care of everything from sight testing & prescribing your corrective lenses (Which is better, 1 or 2?) to diagnosing, treating and managing changes or eye-health problems (red eyes, irritations and ingrown eyelashes included).

Dr. Shakya and Dr. McGuigan are available by appointment weekdays from 9am – 5pm, give us a call today to schedule your next appointment!

Ophthalmologists – Ophthalmologists are medical doctors trained to diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medications and perform eye surgeries. Most often referred to as “specialists”, your ophthalmologist specialises in your specific eye concerns - ranging from eyelid surgeries and cataracts to retinal detachments and ARMD Management.

Most ophthalmologists require a detailed referral from your optometrist prior to your initial appointment. This means seeing your optometrist for regular health checks gives them the opportunity to recommend an ophthalmologist perfect your needs.


Appointments & Prescriptions

The optometry world can be frustrating and confusing – trust me, we know – but our fabulous staff is here to help you! Here are some of the answers for your burning questions.

Something is wrong with my eyes! Do I see my family doctor? Should I go to the Emergency Room? – There is nothing worse than sitting in the emergency room for hours on end or trying to get that appointment with your family doctor sooner rather than later. Did you know that the wait to see your Optometrist for any eye health concerns is often much shorter, not to mention most likely covered by Alberta Health Care? For all those itchy, irritated, red eye, burst blood vessel days - goopy or tearing – we are here for you!

One Year, Two Years? When do you need to see me? – This is where things can get confusing: your insurance plan, your eye health history, and your chosen vision correction devices (glasses or contact lenses) can all play a part in determining when your Optometrist needs to see you next. Good news? We keep track of this for you and will send you a reminder when it’s time!

As a general rule of thumb, you or your family members should be seen yearly if you are/have:

  • Children under 19 years old (Covered by Alberta Health Care)
  • Are a senior 65 years old and above (Covered by Alberta Health Care)
  • Are a contact lens wearer

Adults between the ages of 19 – 64 with no eye-health concerns are often safe to come in according to their insurance coverage (usually 1-2 years) unless otherwise specified by your optometrist!


Ok, so I have a prescription, now what?

This where the majority of patient questions tend to pop up! Nowadays, with an overwhelming array of companies offering glasses and contact lenses online it can be so, SO tempting to take your prescription and run with it. From expired contact lens prescriptions to PD measurements, here is why we do what we do and why purchasing from your Optometrists office is the best option:

  • What do I do after seeing the Optometrist? After seeing your optometrist and discussing whether you will need a new or updated prescription, your optometrist will most likely introduce you to an Optician or Contact Lens Tech prepared to answer any and all of your Glasses and Contacts related questions! No time to discuss glasses today? Don't worry, our opticians are available Monday - Friday from 9am -5pm, no appointment necessary.

  • Does my eyeglass prescription work for contacts? This is a common misconception with first time contact lens wearers! Because a contact lens sits directly on the surface of the eye, the corrective power is different from your glasses. A contact lens prescription also takes into account the size of the lens, what material the lens is made of, and how the lens material interacts with your body chemistry – this is why it is important to mention your interest in contacts before your exam, so your Optometrist can fit you in the right brand of lenses for your eyes!

  • Do I really need to see the doctor AGAIN before I can order more contacts? It’s only been a year. Because contact lenses make direct contact with the surface of your eye, they are considered a medical device – this means that prescription changes, as well as a change in brand or material, can have an effect on your comfort and quality of vision. Our office has trial options for testing lenses prior to purchasing your supply which ensures you are happy with your contacts prior to purchase. What if the prescription has not changed and the lenses are still comfortable? Improper use can have significant consequences!  How many days a week your wear the lenses, how many hours you keep them in, how often you dispose of them and the solution you use for cleaning them can all have an effect on your vision and eye health – your optometrist takes all of this into consideration before authorizing your contact lens prescription for use!

  • Why can’t you provide my PD Measurement? A “PD” is a measurement of the distance between the centers of your two eyes. It is required when fabricating eyeglasses to ensure that your eyes are looking through the center of your lenses. Eyeglasses that are not set to your exact PD can cause headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision and/or double vision. The measurement of a PD is considered one of the required procedures for fabricating eyeglasses and not one of the procedures of an eye exam. The optician or company that supplies your eyeglasses is responsible for measuring your PD, which is why most Optometry Offices are unable to provide a PD measurement if you are choosing to purchase your eyeglasses elsewhere!

  • What’s the problem with ordering my glasses online? Although it seems easy to fill in the drop down menus on that website with the numbers on your prescription print out, opticians are trained to interpret your prescription and select a frame, lens material, coatings, and tints specific to your individual needs. Opticians are responsible for measuring the PD and fitting heights specific to single vision and multifocal lenses – measurements that make the transition to your new glasses easy and pain free when done correctly. Essentially, our Opticians are here to customize your glasses specifically for you! While ordering online is affordable, it usually comes at the cost of ill-fitting glasses that cause comfort and vision issues in the long run.


At Spectrum Eyecare, the health of your eyes and your happiness is always a priority. By purchasing your eyewear from us, we are able to provide you with customized vision care and strive to offer only the absolute best value and service. Eyewear is an investment, so invest in the best!