What to Expect During an Optometric Exam1

The College of Optometrists of Ontario (“College”) is the organization responsible for licensing optometrists in Ontario and ensuring that optometrists have the knowledge, clinical skills, and judgment necessary to provide you with safe, ethical, high-quality eye health-care, free of any discrimination.

In this document, we summarize the optometrist’s responsibilities when treating you and identify expectations that you may have as a patient during an optometric examination.

Your optometrist will have a strictly professional relationship with you and will not have any sexual involvement with you (including remarks and behaviour of a sexual nature that are not clinically appropriate to the service provided). The patient–practitioner relationship you have with your optometrist must be built on mutual trust, respect, honesty, and on sharing information relevant to your eye health care. It is in your best interest to actively participate in your eye health care by communicating effectively with your optometrist.

Your optometrist will:

  • Always act in your best interest and communicate with you in a professional manner, clearly, openly, honestly and with sensitivity.
  • Work with you to understand your eye health-care needs and help determine the best course of treatment for you.
  • Respect your right to make decisions about your eye health care or treatment options.
  • Address any questions or concerns you may have about a specific treatment or your eye health care in general.
  • Protect the privacy and confidentiality of your personal health information.
  • Keep comprehensive and accurate records of the care provided.
  • Provide a copy of your patient record2 upon request.
  • Work with other optometrists and health-care providers (e.g., opticians, ophthalmologists, family physicians, etc.) who are involved in your health care.
  • Provide you with any eye health-care resources you require (e.g., community resources such as CNIB).

You can:

  • Ask your optometrist questions about your eye health and treatment options, and express any concerns you may have.
  • Ask for a second opinion3 if you are not comfortable making a decision or wish a perspective from another optometrist before you make a decision.
  • Refuse treatment or change your mind and stop treatment that you initially consented to.

Optometric exam procedures

As part of the optometric exam, the optometrist will be required to initiate procedures that will bring him/her into close proximity to you. In addition, to investigate or treat some of your eye health concerns, your optometrist may ask you sensitive questions about your habits and behaviour. You can expect that your optometrist will communicate with you and conduct all procedures in an appropriate, respectful, and professional manner.

Your optometrist will:

  • Provide care in a clean, safe, and comfortable environment.
  • Clearly explain the reasons for any questions/procedures and obtain your consent.

You can:

  • Ask questions about the procedures.
  • Ask to have a third party present during the examination or procedure.
  • Ask your optometrist to stop the examination or procedure if you do not wish to continue.

For further information . . .

  • Look up your optometrist on the College’s public register to find out information about him/her.
  • Look up the rules that optometrists must follow and the responsibilities they have to you on the College’s website.
  • Find more information about sexual abuse and the support available to patients by looking at the College’s Sexual Abuse Complaints web page  or by calling us at 416-962-4071, or toll-free at 1-888-825-2554, ext. 61.
  • If you had an experience that made you feel uncomfortable, call the College to discuss it.
  • If the Discipline Committee finds an optometrist guilty of sexual abuse of a patient, the patient is eligible for funding to provide therapy and counselling. You can find more information on the College’s website or by calling the College.
  • Contact us to ask questions, raise concerns, and/or complain about your optometrist. You can reach us at 416-962-4071, or toll-free at 1-888-825-2554, ext. 61, or complaints@collegeoptom.on.ca.

Approved by Council on September 21, 2016



1This document has been developed based on What to Expect During Medical Encounters, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)

2Your optometrist may charge you a reasonable fee for a copy of your record

3Additional examination fees may apply