Freqent Asked Questions

 

What are the differences between bulk-bill and private bill optometric examination?


The differences are similar to public and private eye or other medical clinical services. Usually, you need to experience both the services and the outcomes, such as after using the optical appliances or treatments for a period of time, before you can appreciate the differences. The differences based on the information from our patients who have been to other optometrists are summarized as below.

 

Why different optometrists or practices charge different fees and/or gaps for my case?

The reasons are:

1. No consultations are exactly the same.

  • Same case with different histories, information, wordings, presentation, concern, severity, questions from the patient and companion(s) will require different testing, equipment, explanations, management options, advice and duration of consultations.

  • In optometric practice, many different tests require patient to fixate at a target inside an equipment for a few minutes. Therefore, patients might feel that they are the same tests if they do not know the details of the test, such as its purpose, the quality of the equipment and the result. Most importantly, it is the expertise and experience of the optometrist involved to conduct the test, analyze the results and provide recommendations for the best management and outcome.

  • Testing and examinations might look like the same to patients, however, the main differences are the content of management plan, advice and outcome, which is the most critical part.

  • Consultations for second opinion have longer case history, require more thorough examination, testing and explanations.

  • In general, consultation fees are time, equipment and expertise based. 

2. No optometrists are exactly the same.

  • Different optometrists have different knowledge, skill, experience, specialties and management options to offer.

  • Same as other professionals, experienced optometrists should have higher remuneration than inexperienced graduate because they can help patients to avoid costly mistakes and have better outcomes.

  • Specialty optometrists need to spend extra time and expenses on acquiring and updating advanced knowledge and skills by attending courses, workshops and conferences, and also paying membership fees to additional professional associations and societies.

3. No practices are exactly the same.

  • Different practices have different overheads due to different locations, size, levels of equipment and technology, levels of services, experience and expertise of optometrists and staff.

  • Specialty optometric practices are usually equipped with advance equipment and technology for the advanced specialties.

  • Experienced and specialty optometrists and practices have higher overheads. Therefore, their fees and charges are higher to cover their higher costs.

4. Medicare benefits could be different.

  • Medicare Benefits Schedule for optometry services have different items with different conditions and restrictions. 

  • For example, second comprehensive initial consultation, within 36 months for a patient who is less than 65 years of age and once every 12 months for a patient who is at least 65 years of age, of a previous comprehensive consultation (item 10907). Medicare benefit is only about $29.00 currently, which is only about half of the benefit of the first comprehensive initial consultation, and that is about $59 currently.

  • The full Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) listing of updated fees can be found at MBS Online. (http://www9.health.gov.au/mbs/search.cfmq=optometry+schedule+fee&Submit=&sopt=S)

5. Health fund benefits could be different.

  • In general, most health fund do not pay any benefits for optometric consultations.

  • Some high level of cover might rebate on some testing, such as Package Bonus of Medibank Private and AHM might pay benefits on some digital retinal scans. Some overseas medical covers might rebate on some consultations. 

  • Different health funds have different rules and conditions. You need to check and submit the claim for the rebate after paying the consultation in full.

In summary, more complex cases or patients with more concerns require longer consultations for testing with more equipment and specialty expertise, and also more explanations due to more management options. It is a unchanging truth that higher costs incur higher fees. In reality, cheap but high quality products and services simply do not exist!

 

We often see patients purely focus on the fees rather than the outcomes; and they miss out the best management options for themselves and their families. Usually they have been seeing regular optometrists who do not offer specialty services because either they don't know or can't offer them. They think or were told that all optometrists are the same and provide the same levels of services. For example, a layman who has heard $2 burger sold in fast food shop would think $20 burger sold by a cafe is over-priced before he actually see and taste the big and tasty gourmet burger from the cafe. Similarly, we need to try and experience the outcomes personally before we can actually tell or appreciate the differences of different quality services.

Why Medicare does not pay for all types of optometric examinations?

Basically, our government and Medicare make this policy and they are the best organisations to answer this question. In fact, no optometrist can provide you the exact answer. Optometrists just follow their rules and regulations.

Some information can be found on webpages as below: 

What's covered by Medicare - Screening, tests and scans - Services Australia

Changes set to see optometrist fee rise | The Examiner | Launceston, TAS

How much are the glasses and contact lenses? 

For prescription glasses and contact lenses, we need your latest written prescription and all your requirements before we can tell the costs and prices. Different frames, lenses and contact lenses have different prices and they can vary a lot. Nowadays, there are many different qualities and features of products. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to quote without knowing exactly information.

We do not produce any products and we are like a middle person to help you choose the products which suit your requirements and budget, and to avoid problems from poor quality cheap products. We can order all grades of products, from budget ones with the lowest prices to those with the best quality. In order to provide you a close estimate quote, we need you to come in personally either with your latest written prescription or have an eye examination done by our optometrist. We don't provide any quotes over the phone because we feel that it is no point to provide you starting prices which can confuse you. Most importantly, we will try our best to find products which suit your requirements and budget.

We often have problems contacting people due to different reasons. Please come in or call us if you don't receive our responses.

Why color or cosmetic contact lenses without power need a prescription to purchase? 

 

According to the government, all contact lenses are medical devices whether they have prescription or non-prescription, including all cosmetic and novelty contact lenses without power. Information can be found on https://www.productsafety.gov.au/products/health-lifestyle/cosmetics/cosmetic-novelty-contact-lenses. It is because they contact with eyes and corneas and have risks of causing severe corneal ulcer and permanent blindness within a few days if they are neither fitted professionally nor handled and used correctly. Further information can be found on https://webeye.ophth.uiowa.edu/eyeforum/cases/171-pseudomonas-keratitis.htm. Therefore, a valid contact lens prescription which specify the exact contact lenses must be required because almost all contact lenses have different lens design and fitting. However, similar to all other medical devices, they are very safe to use if professional advice and instructions are followed.

Some merchants might not be aware that selling contact lenses without power, without a valid prescription is illegal and heavy penalty will be incurred.

Why can't I use my spectacle prescription to buy contact lenses or vice versa?

Contact lens prescription and spectacle prescription are two different prescriptions because of the way they correct vision. Contact lenses are in contact with eyes whereas  spectacles are further away, therefore, the powers are different. In addition, the contact lens prescription also include details about the shape, dimensions and material of the lenses that accurately fit your eyes to ensure visual and physical comfort and to avoid potential eye health conditions.

Should I buy contact lenses online?

Online retailers offer discounts on bulk orders and the convenience of ordering from home.  It might not advisable to buy contact lens online because studies have shown incidences of contact-lens related corneal infections is higher in people who order contact lenses online. The information can be found on: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cxo.13082. Regular checkups are important to ensure the best vision for comfort, efficiency and safety, and also to ensure that your eye health is good without any signs of silent diseases which can potentially cause serious consequence such as permanently lay-off of contact lenses and even permanent visual impairment. Visual impairment or blindness can have a huge negative impact on your income, medical expenses, mobility, independence, lifestyle and future. More and more jobs and professionals require good vision and eye health as pre-requisites, such as policemen, armies, drivers, pilot, electricians, etc. In addition, we order our contact lenses from our suppliers in Australia; while the source and handling of the contact lenses from online retailers are usually unknown. Our Australian suppliers are responsible for any issues and provide warranties; while online retailers are mostly not able to provide such services and warranty. For some contact lenses, we might be able to match or closely match the online prices. For convenience, orders can be placed via emailing or ringing us, credit card payments can be accepted over the phone and delivery can be arranged. Nevertheless, it is wise not to risk your precious irreplaceable eyes and vision for any reasons.

Should I buy spectacles online?

Buying spectacles online may be save you some money, but how about quality, style, fit, warranties and after-sale services?

Here are some problems of buying glasses online, some of the information can be found on: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/ordering-glasses-online.

  1. You don't get to try the glasses on or have professional(s) help you in person.

  2. It is hard to measure your own pupil distance and impossible to measure your own monocular pupil distance accurately, which you need to order your glasses. Some experts says it's like trying to cut your own hair.

  3. A large study found about half the online glasses had the wrong prescription or other problems. Most of the online glasses are manufactured in developing countries where they don't need to follow Australian Standards or any other professional standards.

  4. An incorrect prescription may give you blurred vision, tired and sour eyes, regular headaches and other problems.

  5. Many lenses, especially with progressive, bifocal, extended focus, anti-fatique, aspheric and high power lenses, require other fitting measurements that need to be exact and measured in person when you try on the frames.

  6. Most websites do not take health insurance.

  7. Product quality is a common problem. We have seen online glasses became defective or broken with a couple of months with normal handling. The online retailer said that they only provided 30-day warranty. In contrast, the manufacturing warranty for our quality frame and lenses is between 12 to 24 months. In addition, for extra peace for mind, we provide prescription warranty for 3 months if the eye test is done by our optometrist.

  8. It is usually difficult to return the glasses or get a refund.

  9. The online glasses usually take long time to arrive because they are usually manufactured in the developing countries with poor logistic and infrastructure in order to minimize the costs. They might take weeks or months to arrive due to multiple custom clearance and delay.

  10. No fitting and after-sale services can be provided due to their remote and cost cutting nature. Therefore, you need to pay additional fees for the services provided by your local service providers. Cheap low quality products require more frequent after-sale services. Therefore, you might end up having frequent problems and paying more as a whole.

Initially, it might look cheaper to buy spectacles online; however, it might end up causing you more hassles, frustration, time and money eventually!

Should I buy spectacle overseas?

Buying spectacles overseas may be save you some money, but how about warranties and after-sale services?

  1. In some countries, there might be no professional guidelines or standards to govern the services and products. The retailers, product suppliers and lens laboratories might provide you sub-standard services and products. That might be the reasons why they can provide you lower prices.

  2. We often see patients complain about their spectacles from overseas.

  3. An incorrect prescription may give you blurred vision, tired and sour eyes, regular headaches and other problems.

  4. Most health funds do not reimburse any benefits for spectacles bought overseas.

  5. Product quality could be a problem.

  6. It is usually difficult to return the glasses or get a refund.

  7. No after-sale services can be provided. Therefore, you need to pay additional fees for the services provided by your local service providers. Cheap low quality products require more frequent after-sale services. Therefore, you might end up having frequent problems and paying more as a whole.

 

At first, it might appear more economical to buy spectacles overseas, but it might cause you more troubles, resentments and money in the end!