Access to eye care improved in British Columbia

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BC Doctors of Optometry to prescribe anti-glaucoma medication

Amendments to the Optometrists Regulation took effect in August that will allow BC Doctors of Optometry to prescribe medications to treat glaucoma – an eye disease that often has no symptoms and may result in permanent blindness. The changes will make it easier and faster for British Columbians to get the advanced eye care they need to prevent or slow down the progression of glaucoma– especially in rural and remote areas of the province, according to the British Columbia Association of Optometrists (BCAO).

“By allowing Doctors of Optometry to prescribe anti-glaucoma medications, patients will have greater access to timely and appropriate eye care in all areas of the province,” says Dr. Surjinder Sahota, president of the British Columbia Association of Optometrists. “Doctors of Optometry are educated and certified to diagnose and to prescribe treatment for glaucoma. The recent changes allow them to practice what they are already certified to do.”

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada and roughly five out of every 100 British Columbians over the age of 40 have the eye disease. Unlike many other conditions, it can strike at any age, and generally has no symptoms – earning glaucoma the nickname “the silent thief of sight.”

“Anyone can develop glaucoma, but the risk increases with age and B.C.’s population is growing and aging,” says Dr. Sahota. “Expanding the scope of practice for BC Doctors of Optometry will result in an overall reduction in health care costs and reduced waiting times and travel for patients – particularly in rural areas. It’s not uncommon for rural patients to wait over a year or travel hundreds of kilometers to receive treatment.”

Before the regulations changed, Williams Lake B.C. resident Sharon Keighley had to travel over a thousand kilometers to and from Vancouver to receive treatment. “It’s not easy,” says Keighley. “It’s about time these changes took place. They will make a huge difference.” 

Early detection and treatment are vital in preventing irreversible vision loss that occurs with glaucoma. Having regular eye health exams, even if you see well or don’t wear glasses, can help detect glaucoma early enough to prevent vision loss.  Our offices utilize the latest optic nerve fibre layer analysis instruments to facilitate the earliest detection possible.
BC Doctors of Optometry are your primary vision and eye health care providers. They provide a full range of services, including comprehensive eye exams, vision correction, disease detection and treatment, and eyewear.  For more information, visit or join the Facebook community to post your eye-related questions at

Written by Trevor Miranda

Dr. Miranda was raised in Simcoe, Ontario and graduated from the University of Waterloo with his Doctorate of Optometry in 1995. Following graduation, he moved to beautiful Vancouver Island, where he continues to serve the eye care needs of the Cowichan Valley. Trevor is also an active member of the Third World Eye Care Society and has participated with other professionals to improve the vision of the less fortunate. Dr. Miranda was named Optometrist of the Year by the British Columbia Association of Optometrists in March 2015. This prestigious honour recognized Dr. Miranda’s commitment to providing every patient with exceptional care while mentoring optometrists across Canada. Outside the office, you will find Trevor enjoying hockey, coaching soccer, involved with the South Cowichan Rotary Club, and spending time with his wife Cheryl and their three children. Trevor looks forward to continuing to care for the eyes of the Cowichan Valley and welcomes new patients without a referral. Dr. Miranda is available for appointments in our Duncan and Cobble Hill.
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