Frequently Asked Questions

Appointments

Mostly, an appointment needs to be booked for your eye examination. You can do this by finding the practice (4197 1475), by email ([email protected]) or by visiting our practice (67 Main Street, Hervey Bay). Occasionally, it is possible that we can accommodate you without an appointment. If you have an ocular emergency, such as a foreign object in one eye or a sudden loss of vision, come straight into the practice and we will do our best to see you as quickly as possible.

You do not need a referral to come and visit us at Richard Watt Optometrist. However, if you have been recommended to come along by your medical practitioner, and other health professional, teacher or school or another optometrist, a referral may provide useful background information and quickly identify areas of concern.
If you have been examined by another optometrist within the last three years, having a referral from your previous optometrist may help to maximise your Medicare rebate.

During a comprehensive eye examination, we will ask lots of questions about eye health, general health, hobbies, habits, interest and your experiences with previous glasses. We also ask that you fill in a questionnaire each time you come for a full eye examination to make sure all of these areas are fully covered. With lots of information on your general health, vision needs, eye health, previous glasses, occupation, interests, etc. we are able to provide the best service to meet all your vision needs.

If things change and you can’t keep your appointment, please phone the practice as early as possible to reschedule. This would be greatly appreciated and may give us the opportunity to offer that appointment slot to someone else.

General Eye Exam Questions

Richard has extensive experience and skills with children of all ages and can confidently examine children as young as four months of age. Richard is a Behavioural or developmental optometristand this involves extensive extra education in caring for complex children’s vision issues. Richard is the only behavioural or developmental optometrist in the Wide Bay.

A comprehensive eye exam includes extensive case history, many eye health checks, measuring sharpness of vision and testing for glasses and eye muscle balance tests.
If the optometrist feels it’s needed, further special diagnostic imaging and testing may be recommended, particularly if glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal disease, diabetic changes or other eye problems are suspected.
Our practice has some of the best diagnostic equipment in the area, particularly the combination of ultra-wide angle photography of the back of the eyes and optical coherence tomography (an imaging system much like an MRI but specific to the back of the eyes.

Generally, comprehensive eye examination is recommended every two years. For some of our clients with suspicion of eye disease general health problems, we will recommend frequent examinations.

Most comprehensive eye examinations last around 45 minutes to give the optometrist plenty of time for an extensive case history, a full array of eye testing and plenty of time to discuss options of treatment, advice, lens options, contact lenses, referral or whatever service is needed. We don’t like to rush the most important part of the vision care process.
If glasses need to be ordered, the need to allow some extra time to choose frames and consider all of the various lens, tint and lens coating options.

We recommend that children have their first eye exam as young as 4 months of age, but even earlier if there is an obvious problem. Our experience in and interest in testing children and additional study means that valuable information about a child’s developing vision can be obtained even at a very young age. We regularly have children and babies referred to our practice by doctors, paediatricians, eye specialists, occupational therapists and other optometrists. Richard is the only behavioural or developmental optometrist in the Wide Bay.

Queensland law requires that drivers have good central vision (achieve 6/12 on the letter chart) and have good peripheral vision. If you are required to have your vision checked for a licence renewal, book in for an eye test and bring your licence forms and we can look after the rest.

Costs and Payment Options

We accept cash, check, Bankcard, MasterCard and Visa.
We are also members of the Bartercard network.

We are also pleased to offer payment plan options through SeeNow Pay Later. Whether you need a new pair or a spare pair, you can spread the cost over time.

Most eye examinations are able to be bulk billed, so there is no upfront payment. If you have attended another optometrist within the last three years (12 months if you’re over 65), Medicare makes it difficult to bulk bill. In these circumstances, our standard consultation fee is $75 and the rebate from Medicare will be either $56 or $28. Medicare claims can be processed at the front desk through Medicare’s EasyClaim service.
Our practice also provides extensive additional diagnostic services backed by some of the most advanced equipment in the area. These additional diagnostic services are not covered by Medicare and fees range from $50-$110.
Medicare’s coverage of contact lens consultations is limited to higher prescriptions and unusual eye problems. Most contact lens wearers don’t need these Medicare criteria and so we charge fees for most contact lens consultations. These fees range from $30-$175 depending on what services are required. The higher fees are charged for new contact lens wearers and this covers extensive training in the care and handling of contact lenses by the optometrist.

Private health insurance covers many of the services not covered by Medicare. You will need an appropriate level of private health insurance to make claims for glasses, contact lenses and other services. We offer easy claiming to your private health fund at the time of payment through our HiCaps terminal.

Contact Lenses

For most people who wear glasses full-time, there is a viable contact lens option. People choose contact lenses over glasses for lots of reasons. Often, contact lenses are a better option for sport and some occupations or hobbies and interests. People with high prescriptions or a big difference in prescription between the two eyes will get better vision with contact lenses than with glasses. Most people wearing contact lenses just prefer the look of contacts to wearing glasses.

The first step is to have a comprehensive eye exam and we can discuss what you are hoping to achieve. From there, we usually proceed to trial contact lenses and a teaching session. This teaching session is VERY important and something we believe our practice does better than most optometry practices. We cover detailed instruction in hygiene, contact lens insertion, removal, cleaning and storage. These sessions often last around two hours and are done only by our optometrists. We want to make sure all our contact lens wearers learn good safe habits right from the start. If all goes well, our patients wear their contact lenses home and return in a week or two for a follow up visit to confirm that the trial contact lenses are performing well. From there, we can order contact lenses. BUT, you’ll still need backup glasses to wear on your days off contact lens wear or in case of eye irritation.

Most contact lenses are soft disposable contact lenses and replaced monthly, fortnightly or daily. Daily disposable contact lenses are more expensive and don’t cover as wide a range of prescriptions but eye infections are dramatically lower with daily disposable contact lenses.
Most contact lenses replace a simple glasses prescription. There are also options for people who wear bifocal or multifocal glasses.
A few of our clients wear gas permeable (hard) contact lenses, mostly because they have quite irregular shaped front surfaces of their eyes. These patients achieve better vision with their hard lenses than they could with soft contact lenses.

There are some contact lenses made of a special type of material that can be worn for days at a time. These materials allow lots of oxygen to pass through the contact lens material. We have many happy clients who love the freedom to be able to wake up in the morning and be able to see straight away with their extended wear contact lenses. BUT we insist on rigorous care as the chance of eye infections is quite a lot greater with extended wear contact lenses.

We can prescribe contact lenses for children even in primary school but only for occasional wear, and always with full involvement of parents. It is vitally important that hands, contact lenses and contact lens storage cases are kept extremely clean. If we feel that a child isn’t sufficiently responsible to manage contact lenses and the parents are not highly motivated to be involved, we do not proceed. Most of all, we want our contact lens wearers to safely wear their lenses and follow our rules. We’ve prescribed contact lenses for children who show potential to move onto elite sport and for children with high prescriptions where the contact lenses provide superior vision or there are self-esteem and bullying issues from wearing high prescription glasses at school.

If you wear contact lenses and come in for regular checkups on your contact lenses every six or 12 months, you will still need a comprehensive eye examination every two years. This allows the optometrist to review your prescription for glasses and to examine new for all sorts of eye health issues, eye muscle problems and other essential tests that are unrelated to contact lens wear.

Eye Health

Inside each eye is a lens that helps focus light at the back of the eyes. Later in life, generally in our early 70’s and beyond, the lens becomes cloudy and opaque. That is a cataract. Treatment for cataracts involves surgery to remove the old lens and replace it with an artificial, plastic lens. This is generally very easy surgery with great results and, in Hervey Bay, we have excellent eye specialists to choose from. The first appearance of as cataract doesn’t warrant immediate referral. As cataracts develop, eventually, they degrade vision to a point where updating glasses still gives a fairly mediocre result. That’s the time for referral.

Most of the inside of the eye is filled with fluid. The pressure of that fluid can be measured and it should stay in a nice range. If the pressure rises, this can start to damage the optic nerves at the back of the eyes, leading to loss of vision and eventually blindness. If we suspect glaucoma, we will recommend additional diagnostic testing with our extensive equipment to identify the other features that lead to a diagnosis of glaucoma. In some cases, we monitor regularly. If it’s clear that someone has glaucoma developing, we will arrange o referral to a local eye specialist. Most people with glaucoma use eye drops to lower the pressure. Some people have laser treatment. Some people need more complicated surgery if the other treatments fail. Glaucoma can develop at any age but risk increases with age.

The macula is a specialised part of the back of the eye that provides the most detailed vision. As we get older (and for various other reasons), the macula or the blood supply to the macula deteriorate. This can result in loss of detailed vision, gaps in vision, distortion of central vision or other vision changes. Mostly, there are two types of macular degeneration. The dry form tends to progress more slowly and there is no treatment. The wet form is the potentially more catastrophic form of macular degeneration, with treatment available that works some of the time. You can improve your chance of avoiding macular degeneration by wearing sunglasses and a hat throughout life in keeping yourself healthy including a well-balanced diet.

We have some of the best diagnostic equipment of any practice in Hervey Bay. Since our practice opened in 1989, Richard has consistently been the equipping the practice with the latest technology and gold standard diagnostic equipment. Our equipment allows us to do computerised mapping of peripheral vision, ultra wide angle photos of the back of the eyes (Optomap), laser 3-D cross sectioning of the retina, macula and optic nerve (optical coherence tomography), plus much more. All this equipment means we can quickly and accurately identify all sort of vision and eye health problems and, if needed, provide accurate and very detailed referrals to eye specialists or reporting back to medical practitioners.

Recent research has shown that some blue light can accelerate the loss of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye leading to macular degeneration. Research also shows some blue light can suppress the natural production of melatonin, and this can result in disrupted sleep patterns. The blue light that is a problem is produced in abundance by LED lights such as the ones that are becoming more common in offices and at home PLUS the lighting behind most flatscreen TVs, tablets, iPads and smartphones. We can provide extensive information on the challenges of blue light and how to protect yourself.

Diabetes can weaken walls of the small blood vessels and resulting bleeding and swelling of the back of the eye. Fortunately, only a small proportion of all diabetics develop the really destructive diabetic changes – proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Regular eye checks including high-quality photography and optical coherence tomography are a standard part of our diabetes monitoring.

A pterygium is a skin-like growth that starts on the white of the eye and progresses towards the centre (pupil). If a pterygium is allowed to grow, it can impair vision significantly. But, a pterygium grows very slowly (over years or decades) and mostly, they never get to a size where treatment is needed. If a pterygium threatens vision, we refer the patient to a local eye specialist for surgical removal. Sunlight is probably the main cause of a pterygium. Wearing sunglasses (especially wrap-around sunglasses) and a hat. If you have a pterygium, it will probably get irritated with wind, glare and dust. When this happens, some lubricating eye drops or eye drops that “take the red out” will settle things down.

Front surface of the eye is kept wet with the secretions of a number of small tear producing glands in the eyelids. If the volume of tears the mix of the different components changes, this can result in the tear film becoming more fragile allowing the front surface of the eyes to dry out times. Most people who develop a tear film disorder need to use lubricating eyedrops on a regular basis for the rest of their lives. Dry eyes can cause grittiness, irritation, burning and intermittent blurred vision.

Whenever you have a comprehensive eye examination at our practice, we will check for vision problems, eye muscles problems and eye health problems. If you need to be referred to an eye specialist, we will do that promptly by sending a detailed referral to a specialist who is well equipped for whatever problem you have. Different specialists have their own strengths and specialty areas and we consider this when we refer our patients. We have excellent professional relationships with our local eye specialists and specialists further afield.

Many of our patients are sent along to us by local medical practitioners. Reasons for these referrals include all sorts of symptoms like unexplained headaches, sudden flashes of light spots in vision, monitoring of diabetes, sudden onset of double vision, difficult to treat red eye and eye infection problems, stroke assessment of a host of other reasons. We regularly assist local medical practitioners, organising urgent referrals where necessary or reporting back to the referring practitioner to aid them in assisting with clients general health.

Lenses, Tints and Coatings

We prescribe and recommend Rodenstock lenses. The majority of our spectacle lenses are manufactured in Germany and incorporate the best of German precision lens technology.
We believe Rodenstock have some of the finest lens designs and most precise manufacturing processes in the world. Rodenstock offer a huge range of lens designs and lens customization options to cater for today’s diverse vision needs.

Extensive research over the past four decades as shown that long-term exposure to sunlight contributes to cataract to macular degeneration. Excessive glare can also create problems with driving and reduce driver safety. For these reasons, everyone should have tinted lenses to wear outdoors during the daytime. Another emerging issue is the danger of blue light and some specialised tints can help to reduce this.

Definitely not. Lenses manufactured by the biggest lens companies in the world include decades of research and development which leads to clearest vision, thinnest lenses, best lens coatings, optimum comfort and safety. We use and recommend Rodenstock precision lenses manufactured in Germany. We believe Rodenstock lenses produce some of the finest precision spectacle lenses in the world.

A progressive lens is a type of lens that focuses at varying distances when looking through the top of the lens, middle or bottom. The most common progressive lenses are designed to be worn full time and provide nice clear distance vision at the top of the lens, reading at the bottom of the lens and mid-range distances between. We can customise progressive lenses for different ranges depending on what our patients require. We use and recommend Rodenstock precision lenses from Germany and their lenses offer an enormous range of options and customisation. We must stress that not all progressive lenses are the same. The biggest lens companies in the world (including Rodenstock) keep researching better and better lens designs offering a wider area of clear middle and reading and less distortion in the edges. Older lenses based on older technology give a smaller area of optimum vision and more distortion at the edges of the lenses. These also are the lenses that are least expensive. Premium lenses include the latest technology, the widest range of clear vision, lease distortion but also cost more.

Almost all spectacle lenses are made of a special type of optical quality plastic. If left in the wall state, lenses would scratch very easily. However, all spectacle lenses have various types of lens coatings to reduce scratching, reduce unwanted reflections, improve optical quality, and the appearance of the lenses. We use and recommend Rodenstock lenses and a fractured in Germany and the better quality Rodenstock coatings come with a three-year limited warranty.

General Product and Warranty

We pride ourselves on the great service we provide. If, after you have received glasses, contact lenses or any service, you feel that things aren’t quite right, please come in and visit us and will do whatever is needed to make sure you are happy with the service.
Most of our frames come with a 2 years manufacturer’s warranty.
The lens coatings on our precision German Rodenstock brand lenses come with a 3-year warranty. Please note this is not a scratch free warranty.

Mostly, it is desirable for you to pick up glasses or contact lenses in person from our practice. This provides the opportunity for correct adjustment, or any final advice. If it is not practical to come into the practice, we can arrange postage of your glasses or contact lenses as needed.

If you don’t wish to have your glasses made up on our practice, you are free to take your prescription elsewhere. However, Richard recommends that if we are going to perform a comprehensive eye examination, it is best to have your glasses made up at our practice because the discussions during the examination often lead to some very specific recommendations on lens design to best meet your vision needs. Also, if you have had glasses made up by our practice and you have problems adapting to the changed prescription or lens design, we are happy to assist as needed, even if that means a remake of your lenses. If your glasses have been made elsewhere, we cannot offer that service.