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Eye Exams and Eye Care Coverage in Canada: A Guide to Eye Care in Every Province

Posted on January 23rd, 2018

According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), 75% of all vision loss can be treated or prevented if caught on time. Unfortunately, many Canadians don't take the time to get a regular eye exam, either because they're worried about the cost or don't think there's anything wrong with their vision.

Many eye diseases start out with little or no symptoms, so it’s only possible to catch them and begin treatment through an eye exam. Additionally, the more advanced an eye disease gets, the harder it is to reverse or treat, and that’s where bigger financial strains are really experienced by patients. Preventative care and upkeep is by far the cheapest and healthiest option for your eyes!

Most Canadian provinces have a health system designed to make the stress of eye exam coverage and prescription eyewear more manageable by providing eye care assistance programs. Eye exams without insurance are topics covered and discussed below as part of Canadian vision care.

Financial resources and links by province

We have summarized the eye care you’re eligible for in every province and territory in Canada to date. We recommend speaking to a health care professional to ensure you’re covered, as rules and regulations do change on an ongoing basis. Keep in mind that eye exam costs without insurance and the cost of eyeglasses vary from location and clinic, so it’s impossible to get a good idea of pricing without contacting individual locations you’re planning to go to.

Ontario

The OHIP health plan of Ontario covers a complete free eye exams, checkups, and follow-up appointments as necessary for patients under the age of 20 and over 65.

Quebec

The RAMQ public plan of Quebec covers all children under 18 years of age and those over the age of 65 for all optometry services. Parents of children under 18 may be reimbursed up to $250 for either a pair of glasses or a contact lens prescription.

Alberta

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides free eye exams for those under 18 years old and over 65. There is an exception however, for people in the age range of 19-65. If an optometrist deems a situation medically necessary as a result of trauma, a medical condition or episode of illness, optical services will be covered.

British Columbia

Routine eye examinations are not a BC Medical Services Plan benefit for individuals aged 19 to 64 years. Medically required eye exams are covered for everyone for conditions such as ocular disease, eye injury and certain diseases related to eye health (for example, diabetes).

Manitoba

Manitoba Health ensures all youth under the age of 18 are covered for standard eye exams every two years. Seniors aged over 65 are also covered. The province’s Children’s Opti-Care program covers $84 every three years for glasses expenses, with the possibility of higher coverage on a case-by-case basis. Eye exams due to diagnosed eye diseases are also insured in Manitoba.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick does not have a universal health care plan for eye care. All children under the age of four are allowed one free eye exam, but the province’s Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision initiative does help low-income families with children under 18 years of age.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Vision care in Newfoundland and Labrador is covered up to $55 for children’s eye exams every 12 months, and once every 36 months for adults. For prescription glasses, the province will cover $125 for single-vision lenses and $175 for bifocals.

Northwest Territories

All NWT residents are eligible for eye exams. Eye examinations are free in the NWT unless required by a third party, non-resident and/or no NWT health care plan.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Health optometric services coverage extends to a routine eye analysis every two years for children under the age of nine and seniors over the age of 65.

Nunavut

The Non-Insured Health Benefits program of Nunavut covers the cost of eye exams and the cost of eyeglasses; these costs are billed directly to the NIHB. For those under 19 years of age, a free eye exam and pair of eyeglasses is covered every 12 months. For those over 19, a free eye exam and pair of glasses are permitted every 24 months.

Prince Edward Island

Health P.E.I. covers some appointments with an optometrist to diagnose some conditions such as red eye, dry eye, eye infections, and other conditions, but will not cover treatments or standard eye exams.

Saskatchewan

If you have a Saskatchewan Health Services card, yearly free eye exams are covered by Saskatchewan Health for children under 18 or those who have type I and II diabetes. All ocular emergencies are covered, such as foreign objects or other eye injuries, including follow-up exams.

If you are receiving additional family benefits or supplementary health benefits, the program covers eye exams and eyeglasses once a year for those under 18 years of age. For adults over the age of 18, eye exams are covered once every two years.

Yukon

The Yukon’s Children’s Drug and Optical Program provides eye care for those under the age of 18 in low-income families. Eye care includes eye exams every two years, contact lenses (when medically recommended), and a pair of eyeglasses every two years that cost a maximum of $200. Residents over 18 are not covered.

Discover the FYidoctors Better Sight. Better Grades. program

FYidoctors is a Canada-wide chain of doctor-led clinics dedicated to providing your patients with the best treatment and care. We know that vision problems in youth can lead to difficulties in school and later on in life.

We’re proud of our Better Sight. Better Grades. program, which ensures that each child in need under the age of 13 is eligible for a free pair of glasses and a free eye exam. Additionally, every $5 from a pair of glasses customers buy for their children goes right back into the program, ensuring every child has what they need to succeed.

Book your eye exam with a FYidoctors clinic near you and speak to us about the BSBG program.