Frequently Asked Questions

Who should I see and what should I do?

I have something in my eye, what should I do?

We recommend that you make an appointment with an optometrist as soon as possible as an optometrist will have the appropriate equipment to thoroughly examine your eye and remove any foreign body lodged in it. To find an optometrist near you use our Find an optometrist search tool.

I have red, watering eyes, should I see my GP?

There are many different types of red eye and it is best to have an examination with a slit lamp biomicroscope for an accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment. We recommend that you make an appointment with an optometrist as soon as possible as an optometrist will have the appropriate equipment to thoroughly examine your eye, provide an accurate diagnosis and manage your eye condition accordingly. To find an optometrist near you use our Find an optometrist search tool.

My child is sitting closer and closer to the TV, why is this?

If your child is sitting too close to the TV or computer, asking to sit up the front in class to see the blackboard, or doesn’t recognise grandma across the room, this is a likely sign that your child could be suffering from one of the fastest growing health epidemics in the world – myopia (short sightedness). We recommend that you make an appointment to have your child’s eyes examined by an optometrist as soon as possible as there are numerous reasons why this could be occurring. To find an optometrist near you use our Find an optometrist search tool.


Visiting an optometrist

How often should I have an eye examination?

We recommend regular eye examinations from the time just prior to starting school and then throughout life. How often this needs to occur is based on the clinical findings and something that your optometrist will discuss with you.

If you wear glasses, most prescriptions expire after two years (less than this in some cases) hence the requirement to re-test before an optometrist can prescribe a new set. In fact, some State laws prevent the dispensing of expired prescriptions. This is to ensure that you are using the lenses with the most appropriate correction for your eyes.

Does going to an optometrist hurt?

A visit to an optometrist is simple and pain-free. Watch our video which highlights what happens during an eye examination.

What type of eye tests will an optometrist perform?

Watch our video which highlights what happens during an eye examination.

What is the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist?

Optometrists are qualified to examine your eyes and to detect, diagnose and manage vision problems. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors. They have completed specialist training in surgery of the eyes. Optometrists do not perform surgery. An optometrist is able to refer you to an ophthalmologist for surgical treatment if required. You can find more information here.

Can my optometrist remove a foreign body from my eye?

Chat with your optometrist first, but in general, they can remove a foreign body from your eye.

How can I contact an optometrist near me?

To find an optometrist near you, use our Find an optometrist search tool.

Are optometrists qualified?

Yes. To practice in Australia, all optometrists must complete a university degree and be registered with the Optometry Board of Australia.


Costs

Do I have to pay to visit an optometrist?

A comprehensive eye examination may cost between $75-$125 but this will depend on the practice. Many practices may not charge you a fee at all, instead relying on Medicate rebates to cover your visit (bulk billing), while others may need to charge you an out-of-pocket fee depending on what they can, or cannot claim back through Medicare. Practices may charge you the full fee for an examination if you do not have a Medicare card.

We recommend you ask your optometrist what charges you should expect to pay at the time you make the appointment.

Can my optometrist charge me if I don’t attend my appointment?

Under Australian Consumer Law, an optometry practice is within its rights to charge a cancellation or a “no-show” fee for appointments provided that this has been communicated to you before or during making an appointment. The practice must also have their Cancellation Policy clearly visible and easily understandable on their premises or website. However, there are situations where imposition or a cancellation fee may not be considered fair or reasonable as defined within the national unfair contract term laws.

How much is a pair of glasses?

The cost of glasses will depend mainly on the cost of the frames that you select and the type of lens your optometrist has prescribed.

What does my private health insurance cover in terms of an optical rebate?

This will depend on your private health insurer and whether you have ancillary (extras/optical) cover. Please check with your private health insurer.


Your records

Can I obtain a copy of my patient records from my optometrist?

Yes - you may request that your optometrist provide you with a copy of your records. Prior to doing so, you should check whether you will be charged any administration fees for this service.

Under law, your optometrist is required to keep a record of your files for seven years after the date of your last visit, with the exception of Queensland, where they must be held for 10 years. After that, they may securely destroy patient records.


Complaints

I have a complaint to make against my optometrist. What should I do?

We recommend contacting the relevant State Government department responsible for consumer complaints to assist you.

Can I lodge a complaint against an optometrist with you?

We recommend contacting the relevant State Government department responsible for consumer complaints to assist you.


Common eye conditions

What are the most common eye conditions?

The most common problems affecting our vision prevent us from seeing clearly and/or comfortably. These include short or long-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia and they can usually be corrected with prescription glasses. Other eye conditions – such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, can be more serious and will require different levels of treatment and care. To manage the health of your eyes, we recommend seeing an optometrist regularly throughout life. To find an optometrist near you, use our Find an optometrist search tool.

What is myopia?

Myopia is a type of refractive error commonly known as short-sightedness – i.e. distance objects are blurry while objects close to you remain in focus. Myopia is the fastest growing health epidemic in the world, thanks mainly to the amount of time we are spending indoors, rather than spending 1-2 hours a day outdoors.


Wearing glasses

What is the difference between buying a pair of reading glasses from a pharmacy or convenience store, compared to those from an optometrist?

We recommend always purchasing glasses from an optometrist who will ensure that they are fitted properly and that the prescription is correct for each of your eyes. Optometrists also take into account other factors, like the position of your eyes, the angle and position of the frame, and the distance between your pupils which make prescription glasses unique for each wearer. Other options like bifocal and multifocal reading glasses are only available from an optometrist.

Will wearing glasses make my eyesight deteriorate faster than if I don’t wear glasses?

This is a myth and is not true – eyesight deterioration will not occur as a result of you wearing glasses. Prescription glasses are designed specifically to help correct a range of vision impairment conditions – such as long or short-sightedness. Over time however, your prescription may need changing to a stronger or weaker magnitude, but this has nothing to do with wearing glasses and/or your eyes becoming lazy.

How can I get my glasses adjusted?

We recommend taking them back to your optometrist, or an alternative practice, and asking them to adjust for you. This is usually a complimentary service.

My glasses frames keep breaking, can I have them replaced free of charge?

That will depend on the warranty and when you purchased your glasses. Most glasses do come with a manufacturer’s warranty that will protect you for a defined period of time and against certain types of damage. We suggest asking your optometrist to check your records as to 1) if your glasses are still within the warranty period, and then 2) if the warranty includes or excludes the type of breakage that has occurred.

Can I ask my optometrist for a copy of my spectacle prescription?

Yes, you can ask your optometrist for a copy of your spectacle prescription at the conclusion of an examination provided that your optometrist is satisfied that this has been finalised. If you are requesting one at a later date, you may be required to pay a small administration fee, depending on the practice. The exception is within South Australia and Tasmania where all prescriptions must be provided free of charge regardless of when the patient makes the request.

Can I buy glasses or contact lenses online?

There are many websites that now offer glasses and contact lenses for sale online. We recommend that you always see an optometrist to purchase your glasses because they will undertake correct measurements to ensure that your frames fit you properly and importantly, that your prescription lenses have been correctly fitted within those frames.

Our research also indicates that those who buy prescription glasses online instead of from an optometrist are more likely to regret their purchase due to ill fit, being the wrong shape for the face or not experiencing clear and comfortable vision. Not only does an optometrist work with the precise measurements, they also know how your prescription strength and weight of your lenses contribute to whether your glasses will be comfortable and look good.

My new glasses are meant to be scratch-proof but I’ve noticed scratches on them, what should I do?

There is no such thing as a “scratch-proof” lens. New technologies and special coatings have made lenses tougher and increased their level of “scratch-resistance”, but all lenses need to be cared for properly to avoid scratches. Using a glasses spray bottle (or rinsing your glasses under the cold tap) prior to wiping them with a soft microfibre cloth may assist in keeping them scratch free.  (If your lenses have dust or dirt on them and you wipe them with your shirt this may grind scratches into the lenses). Putting them away in the case when not in use will also assist.


Wearing contact lenses

I have been fitted with contact lenses but I still can’t see properly, what should I do?

Make an appointment with your optometrist to investigate why you’re not seeing properly. The prescription or fit of your lenses may need to be adjusted or an alternative contact lens or material tried.

My contact lenses feel gritty in my eye, what should I do?

The prescription or fit of your lenses may need to be adjusted or an alternative contact lens or material tried. We recommend cleaning your contact lenses regularly to remove any dirt and grime from their surface, but if they continue to remain gritty, you should discuss with your optometrist. Air conditioning, heating or windy days may exacerbate lens dehydration and often using an unpreserved (unit dose) lubricant may be of assistance – check with your optometrist which type is most suitable for your lens type.

Which is better: disposable or non-disposable contact lenses?

This is a question that you need to discuss with your optometrist because different lenses suit different people and your optometrist will advise you which option will give you the best outcome based on the specific prescription required and activities during which the contact lenses will be used.

What is the best way to clean my contact lenses?

Wash your hands before handling your contact lenses and use fresh contact lens cleaning solution every time you clean your lenses. Never use tap or sterile water, saliva, basic saline solution or rewetting drops as none of these will disinfect or properly clean your contact lenses.

At Halloween, what contact lenses can I use to change the colour and look of my eyes?

Your optometrist may be able to recommend eye-altering lenses to enhance your Halloween attire. Under no circumstances use novelty contact lenses purchased over the counter from any other type of store or online. The surface of the eye is extremely delicate and wearing non‐prescribed novelty contact lenses, particularly those from a dubious source, could cause eye damage ranging from mild infections to sight‐threatening conditions such as corneal scarring and even blindness.


Wearing sunglasses

Why is wearing sunglasses important?

We all know the risks of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation on our skin, but many of us are not as aware of the damaging effects that sun exposure can have on our eyes. Repeated exposure of the eyes to UV radiation causes both short-term eye complaints and permanent eye damage. The most common short-term impact of UV exposure to the eye is acute photo keratopathy, akin to sunburn of the cornea, which can cause inflammation and possibly cancer.

When should I wear sunglasses?

While sunglasses are typically more popular in summer, UV damage can occur year round. We therefore recommend that you wear sunglasses all year. Many people also believe it is only the midday sun that poses the greatest UV threat to the eyes but that is not the case as our brow can block a lot of direct light entering the eyes during this time of the day. On some days UV exposure to the eye before 10am and after 2pm may be higher than during the middle of the day due to the angle of the sun in relation to the eye.

If it’s overcast or cloudy, are sunglasses necessary?

Don’t be fooled by clouds – over 90% of UV can penetrate cloud.  The fact that you’re in the shade is also not a reason to take those sunnies off - a significant amount of damage to the eye can come from indirect light, whether it is from the side or reflected off other surfaces such as the ground, sand or water.

Which type of sunglasses offer the best UV protection?

When purchasing sunglasses, remember to check the sun protection factor on the swing tag, look for high category (Australian standard) lenses and remember that a high retail price doesn’t always mean better protection. If in doubt, your optometrist can assist with fitting and advise you on the best lenses for your protection.


Cleaning and caring for your glasses

What is the best way to clean my glasses?

Glasses should be cleaned regularly as part of an ongoing maintenance routine, just like your car. Using a special lens cleaning spray or washing your glasses with a small amount of hand soap or gentle detergent in lukewarm water and then drying with a soft tissue is recommended in order to remove any grease, grime or surface deposits on the lens surface.

You can then use your special microfibre cloth on the lenses to wipe off any remaining residue on your lenses to make them sparkling clean.

Do not use hot water or anything abrasive to clean your glasses. Methylated spirits may be used to clean particularly stubborn marks on lenses but never use household cleaners or acetone as they can damage your frames or lens coatings.

Why can’t I use my t-shirt or another cloth to clean my glasses?

While this may be convenient for cleaning your lenses, your t-shirt, an old rag, a paper towel, dish cloth or any type of towel, can contain abrasive particles and lead to scratches over time.

How do I clean my contact lenses?

Use fresh contact lens cleaning solution every time you clean your lenses as directed by your optometrist. Do not use tap or sterile water, saliva, saline solution or rewetting drops as none of these will disinfect and properly clean your lenses.

How do I keep my glasses in shape?

Bent glasses are usually caused when we sit on them or when we do not take care when putting them on and removing them. Our glasses and sunglasses are designed to sit on our nose and not on our head—they can easily stretch out of shape if you wear them this way. You should always use both hands to put on and take off your glasses, put them away when you are not wearing them and clean them as recommended by your optometrist. This will promote years of clear vision and excellent performance from your glasses.

Where do I put my glasses when I am not wearing them?

When you put your glasses down, always make sure that the lenses are facing upwards. This will help keep them scratch-free and from being damaged for longer. Even better, follow the rule that glasses should only ever be ‘on your face or in the case’. Never place your glasses in your pocket, bag or backpack unprotected. Talk to your optometrist about the best way to clean your glasses and invest in a special microfibre cleaning cloth.


Digital device use

Will using a mobile phone or an iPad damage my child’ eyesight?

Myopia – or short sightedness – is one of the fastest growing health epidemics in the world and we have long campaigned for parents to consider the balance between screen time versus green time as part of safeguarding our children’s vision. Evidence reveals that it is not near work on small screens causing myopia, but a lack of adequate outdoor light. We recommend children spend two hours a day outside to help offset myopia from developing and progressing.

How often should I have a break from looking at my digital screen?

We recommend the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something that it at least 20 metres away for 20 seconds.


Getting your driver’s license

Do I need to have an eye examination when getting my driver’s licence?

Good vision is essential for safe driving and even a small loss of vision can affect your ability to read road signs, see objects from a distance and to do tasks such as changing lanes or merging safely. While an examination is not essential we do recommend that regular eye examinations will help to keep you a safer driver. To find an optometrist near you, use our Find an optometrist search tool.


Beauty tips

Can eyelash extensions damage my eyes?

Eyelash extensions do come with risks to your eyes such as infections of the cornea and eyelid, the permanent or temporary loss of eyelashes, eyelid swelling and allergic reactions. There has been a steady increase in the number of cases associated with allergic reactions to the glue used to adhere extensions to existing lashes, the loss of natural eyelashes, conjunctivitis and even corneal damage due to tweeze injury. Repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause tractional alopecia, where the natural lash falls out due to excessive tension and weight placed on the hair shaft.

If you really want eyelash extensions, we encourage you to ensure that your beauty therapist has been thoroughly trained in this procedure, that the equipment used has been sterilised and that the environment where the procedure will take place is clean. You should also ask your therapist what glue they will use and avoid places that only use formaldehyde‐based adhesives as these are often linked to allergic reactions.  If you notice any discomfort after the procedure, such as inflammation of the eyelid, grittiness, blurred vision or loss of the natural eyelashes, you should see your optometrist immediately.

How often should I change my mascara?

While cosmetic manufacturers do not have to put a use-by date on their products, the presence of bacteria and fungi (that can cause nasty eye infections) increases with the age and use of your mascara. Generally the use-by date for liquid or gel eyeliner and mascara is three months and pencil eyeliner, about two years. We suggest checking the product’s official expiry date by running the batch code through Checkfresh or through apps such as Check Your Cosmetics. Also see some other beauty tips here.


Eye drops

Why do eye drops expire?

It is typically recommended to dispose of multi-dose bottles of eye drops after one month as bacteria and other micro-organisms within the bottle have probably reached sufficient quantities that they could cause infection or other ocular complications.

If you have prescription eye drops, your optometrist will let you know how long you should be using them and when to dispose of them.