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The Importance of Eye Exams for Contact Lenses

Are you planning on wearing contact lenses for the first time? Do you need a new contact lens prescription? Are your current contacts not as comfortable as you wish they were? Your eye doctor will perform a contact lens eye exam to ensure that your vision with contacts is clear, comfortable, and safe, providing you with the right lenses for you. 

What is a contact lens exam?

If you wear or want to wear contact lenses, you’ll need an eye exam for contact lenses, in addition to your regular comprehensive eye exam. Special tests are performed during a contact lens exam to evaluate your eyes and vision with contacts. 

Are eyeglass prescriptions the same as contact lens prescriptions?

No, a prescription for glasses cannot be used for contact lenses. An eyeglass prescription is for lenses that are positioned approximately 12 millimeters from your eyes, whereas a contact lens prescription is measured for lenses that sit directly on the surface of your eye.

The prescription for contact lenses also includes the brand, lens diameter and curvature, which are not part of an eyeglass prescription.

Contact lenses fitting: One size does not fit all

One contact lens size doesn’t fit all eyes. If a contact lens is too flat or too steep for your corneal shape, you may experience discomfort or even eye damage. Your eye doctor will take certain measurements to determine the best contact lens design and fit for your eyes. 

Corneal curvature

This measures the curvature of your eye’s clear front surface (cornea) so the eye doctor can select the optimal curve and diameter for your contact lenses. If your eye’s surface is somewhat irregular because of astigmatism or other conditions, you may require a special lens. 

Pupil and iris size

The size of your pupil and iris (the colored part of your eye) is also important in determining the best contact lens design.

Tear film evaluation

This test evaluates the quality of your tears, to determine whether they will be able to keep contact lenses and your cornea sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. If you have dry eye disease, standard contact lenses may not be right for you. 

Trial lenses

Following the eye exam, you will be provided with trial lenses to verify that the chosen contact lenses offer clear and comfortable vision. This will allow the eye doctor to make any fine adjustments to the prescription.

Contact Lens Eye Exam Near You

Wearing the correct contact lenses for your eyes allows you to enjoy all of the benefits of wearing contacts, while keeping your eyes healthy and comfortable. 

If you’re already a contact lens wearer, visit your eye doctor at least once a year to make sure the lenses are still providing you with optimum vision and comfort.

Contact Shuswap Optometric Centre in Salmon Arm to book your contact lens eye exam today!

Why Does Your Eye Doctor Dilate Your Pupils for an Eye Exam?

If you’ve been following the guideline to have regular eye exams, then you’re probably familiar with having your pupils dilated. Why does your eye doctor do this?

By dilating your pupils, the eye doctor can get a better view of your inner eye structures – so the eye exam is more comprehensive and more detailed. While the back of your eye can be seen through an undilated pupil, it cannot be examined as fully.

A full evaluation of your macula, retina and optic nerve is possible through dilated pupils. In many common eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, these are the parts of the eye that exhibit signs of a problem. Also, health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can often be detected on these parts of the eye.

What happens when the eye doctor dilates your pupils?

Your eye doctor or a technician will insert eye drops into your eyes; it takes 20 – 30 minutes for them to take full effect. Then, your eye doctor will use a lighted microscope to inspect your eyes.

Initially, you may feel a slight stinging when the drops are first inserted, but the discomfort is typically minor and short-lived. For a few hours afterwards, your eyes will be extra-sensitive to light and vision may be slightly blurred. Wearing sunglasses can help manage this sensitivity. Dilation usually wears off within four to six hours.

Even though getting your pupils dilated for an eye exam may feel like a nuisance, it enables your eye doctor to check your ocular health and overall body health with much more accuracy. So the benefits are clear! Contact an expert eye doctor near you to schedule an eye exam.

At Shuswap Optometric Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 866-242-0205 or book an appointment online to see one of our Salmon Arm eye doctors.

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3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor.

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes?

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels.

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Allaway as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss.

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Shuswap Optometric Centre in Salmon Arm to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today.

Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist. 

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight. 

Hypertension

High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol 

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Thyroid

Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease. 

Inflammation

Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. 

Cancer

Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds 

Alzheimer’s 

Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Robert Allaway at Shuswap Optometric Centre in Salmon Arm, remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Robert Allaway can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Diet + Exercise + Eye Exams = Good Vision

Diabetes Awareness Month – Learn about Diabetic Eye Health in Salmon Arm

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to learn more about diabetes of all types – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Everyone knows the word “diabetes,” but can you define the condition? Diabetes is a disease characterized by higher than normal glucose levels in your blood. Blood glucose is what fuels your body, and it comes from the food you eat. When blood sugar flows through your bloodstream, insulin is needed to help it enter your body cells so it can be used for energy. However, if you have diabetes, your body may make insufficient insulin or not be able to use the insulin properly. As a result, all that sugar stays circulation in your blood – unable to be converted into energy.

Diabetes can be managed very well through diet, exercise, and taking medication. Without controlling diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels within the parameters recommended by your doctor, the high blood sugar can damage many organs – including your eyes. Staying healthy by following your personalized diabetes management plan and making sure to visit your eye doctor for regular eye exams, you can pave your path to good vision and eye health!

Diabetic eye health & diabetic eye disease

To state the facts – diabetes-related eye disease can lead to vision loss, but if you have diabetes, you can minimize your risk of developing diabetic eye disease. Taking charge of your health and visiting our Salmon Arm eye doctor for regular eye exams can help prevent these diseases from developing.

Diabetic eye disease comprises several ocular conditions:

  • Diabetic retinopathy – occurs when the small blood vessels in your retina bleed and leak
  • Macular edema – swelling that occurs along with retinopathy; it happens when the retinal blood vessels in the macula (central region of the retina) leak and lead to inflammation
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the lens in the eye, which can cause blurry vision
  • Glaucoma – increased intraocular pressure, which damages the optic nerve and can cause loss of peripheral vision

Diabetes eye exams

With regular check-ups by our Salmon Arm eye doctor, you can help prevent eye problems or keep the problems minor. One mistake that many people with diabetes make is to assume that a diabetes eye exam is only necessary if they notice any symptoms. This couldn’t be further from the truth! A comprehensive eye exam is the only reliable way to detect several eye conditions that can cause vision loss, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Early detection of these problems can make the difference between effective, successful treatment and damage to your vision. During your dilated eye exam, the eye doctor will use high-powered magnification to inspect the inner tissues of your eye thoroughly, checking the retina for signs of diabetic retinopathy and checking the optic nerve for any damage.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines:

  • People with type 1 diabetes should have their first diabetic eye exam within the first five years
  • People with type 2 diabetes should visit their eye doctor for the first diabetic eye exam immediately after diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for years, and vision damage can occur during this time.
  • Women with gestational diabetes should have an eye exam during the first trimester of pregnancy

After the first diabetic eye exam at Salmon Arm, our eye doctor advises all adults with diabetes to visit yearly for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

At Shuswap Optometric Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 866-242-0205 or book an appointment online to see one of our Salmon Arm eye doctors.

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Fall is Here! Do You Wish You Could See the Leaves Changing Colour?

We offer specialized glasses for colour blindness in Salmon Arm and Chase

As autumn pushes the year forwards, everyone oohs and ahs over the fiery tones of the changing fall leaves set against a vivid backdrop of summer greenery. But if you have colour blindness, whether you visit or live in a location with fall foliage, you probably suffer from a feeling of missing out. At Shuswap Optometric Centre and Chase Optometric Centre, we understand – and we can help brighten your view of the world.

Despite the name, colour blindness has nothing to do with going blind. It is a vision condition, more appropriately called colour vision deficiency, in which the ability to discern colours is compromised. While colourblind individuals usually don’t see a stark black and white picture of the surrounding scenery, they do see colours differently from most people.

How do I know if I have colour blindness, and who gets it?

Colour blindness is not rare, affecting millions of people around the world. According to current statistics, about one in every 12 men in the United States is colorblind and one in every 200 women. (And yes, that is a possible reason why so many men ask for help when matching their tie to their shirt!)

Typically, colour blindness is inherited – so blame genetics if you can’t make out all the hues of the rainbow. Also, it can be present from birth, show up during childhood, or make a sudden appearance in adulthood. Other than genetics, colour blindness can also be due to chemical or physical damage to parts of the brain that process colour cues, to the eye itself, or to the optic nerve. As cataracts develop, they can also dim and dull your colour vision.

If you notice that colours don’t look distinct to you, a specialized eye exam using diagnostics to test uvision in our Salmon Arm and Chase eye care centre can diagnose this disorder. Contact us to book an appointment with our eye doctor.

What causes colour blindness?

You need to understand the basics of colour vision in order to understand the loss of this ability. Our Salmon Arm and Chase optometrist explains that your eyes and brain partner to see all the properties of light. When you see reflected light, you see colour – and the particular colour depends on how long the reflected wavelengths of light are. For example, a red rose is only red because it reflects the long wavelengths of red light, absorbing all others at the same time.

In order to see all of the light around you, your cornea and lens focus the wavelengths onto the retina at the back of your eye. There awaits millions of photoreceptors – called rods and cones – which are cells that are sensitive to light. The rods and cones contain photopigment molecules that absorb light, and this process triggers electrical signals to be conveyed from the retina to the brain.

Rods respond more powerfully to dim light, and cones react more forcefully to bright light. Also, cones contain one of three different photopigments, making them sensitive to red, green, and blue light wavelengths. That means in order to see all the hues that are out there, you need all your cones to function fully and properly. When there is a defect in the genes that produce your photopigments, congenital colour blindness results.

Is there only one kind of colour blindness?

No, there are three main types:

  1. Deuteranopia, most common, is a form of red-green colour blindness
  2. Protanopia is another form of red-green colour blindness that affects the ability to discern between blue and green and between red and green
  3. Tritanopia, also called blue-yellow colour blindness, causes people to get confused between blue and green or violet and yellow

What’s the treatment for colour blindness?

While there’s no magic bullet to cure all colour blindness, specialized lenses and advanced optics are now available to enhance your ability to precisely differentiate between colours. Called “colour blind glasses”, this eyewear is crafted with amazing technologies. Basically, the lenses have built-in, customized tints that filter out certain wavelengths of light – giving you a more accurate perception of the spectrum of colour tones.

We are always excited to see the reaction of patients who put on colour blind glasses for the first time in our Salmon Arm and Chase eye care clinic. Suddenly, traffic lights make sense and flowers bloom in more than one shade!

Ready to see not only the trees, but the vibrant red and green of the leaves too? Book a colour blindness eye exam and consultation with our experienced eye doctor at Shuswap Optometric Centre and Chase Optometric Centre.

Wearing Colored Contact Lenses This Halloween? Beware and Take Care!

Countless adults, teens and even children will be wearing colored contact lenses this Halloween, but few are aware of the risks involved. Ever wondered what those cat-eye contacts are doing to your eyes? If you got them without a prescription, beware of health complications.

Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by educating yourself and others about the dangers of wearing colored contact lenses without a prescription.

Why Can Over-The-Counter Colored Contact Lenses Cause Eye Damage?

Contact lenses made to change one’s appearance go by many names: cosmetic, theatrical, Halloween, circle, decorative, colored, or costume contact lenses. While it’s illegal to sell colored contact lenses without a prescription, authorities rarely enforce the law — which means they’re still accessible in many places.

Many people believe that wearing non-prescription color contact lenses can cause no harm. This unfortunate myth has led to many contact lens complications. For instance, when a person feels that a contact lens is “dry”, it could be because the lens is not a good fit. Ideally, the lens should follow the contour of the eye, and stay centered, with enough lens movement to allow tear exchange beneath the lens. 

Furthermore, non-medical colored contact lenses are often produced by unlicensed manufacturers that tend to use inferior plastic and toxic materials, such as lead (often used in lens coloring), which can get absorbed through the eyes into the bloodstream. These illegal lenses may also contain high levels of bacteria from unsanitary packaging, shipping, and storage conditions.

Therefore, purchasing any kind of contact lenses without a prescription or medical oversight can result in a variety of eye complications, such as corneal abrasions, eye sores, conjunctivitis, other eye infections, vision impairment and, in rare cases, even permanent vision loss. 

Even if you have perfect vision, all contact lenses, including colored contacts, require a prescription and proper fitting by an optometrist.

Contact us at Shuswap Optometric Centre and make an appointment with Dr. Robert Allaway to get properly examined for a contact lens prescription. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Colored Contact Lenses

  • DO make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist who will measure your eyes and properly fit you for contact lenses.  
  • DO get a valid prescription that includes the measurements, expiration date and the contact lens brand name.
  • DO purchase the decorative contact lenses from a reliable retailer (hint: they should demand a prescription.)
  • DO follow the contact lens hygiene directives (cleaning, inserting and removing lenses) provided by your eye doctor. 
  • DO make sure to undergo follow-up eye exams as directed by your eye care professional.
  • DON’T ever share contact lenses with anyone else.

So don’t let an eye infection get in the way of your fun this Halloween. Wearing decorative lenses without a valid prescription can result in serious harm to your eyes, which can haunt you long after October 31st.  

Get your comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting by an eye doctor in Salmon Arm at Shuswap Optometric Centre.

Do I really need to check my eyes ?

Everyone, regardless of age or physical condition, is recommended to go for regular eye exams.

Shuswap Optometric Centre eye care Chase,British Columbia

Thorough evaluations of your eye health and vision by Dr. Allaway are the best way to check for signs of vision conditions and ocular disease.

At Shuswap Optometric Centre, our optometrists will inspect your eyes thoroughly, using first-rate skill and advanced diagnostic technology. Your vision matters to us, and we will consider the individual needs and health of each patient. We are located conveniently in Chase, British Columbia, and we are pleased to serve patients from the greater area.

The importance of routine eye exams

Early detection of many typical adult eye diseases can have a powerful effect on the success of treatment. When we examine your eyes in our office in Chase, British Columbia, we will take a very close look for signs of disease that may still be symptom less. To prevent future vision loss or complications, we’ll begin treatment as soon as possible.

With children, an undetected vision condition could harm their ability to learn properly.

Common eye problems that are diagnosed in children include astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness and weak eye teaming. If your child is diagnosed with any of these problems during our comprehensive pediatric eye exam, we will determine the most effective treatments. Eye exams can thereby prevent or lead to resolution of many learning problems in school.

When should you schedule your comprehensive eye exam?

The American Optometric Association (AOA) issued the following guidelines:

Children

  1. First eye exam at 6 months old, to check that the visual system is developing normally
  2. Second eye exam at 3 years old
  3. Complete eye and vision evaluation prior to entering school, around age 5-6. If no vision problems are diagnosed, then follow-up examinations should be done at least every 2 years. If your child needs vision correction, then exams must be scheduled at least once a year.

Children who have any of these risk factors should come in for eye exams more frequently:

  1. Premature birth
  2. Crossed or turned eyes
  3. Family history of eye disease
  4. Other physical disease
  5. History of eye injury
  • Delayed development Adults Until age 40, if no vision correction (such as eyeglasses or contact lenses) is needed, then complete eye assessments should be performed every two or three years.
  • After 40 years old, annual eye exams are encouraged. The incidence of many common eye diseases and vision problems rises as you age, and we will check for conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
  • Everyone over age 60 is strongly recommended to schedule frequent eye exams.
  • Any adult who has a health issue, such as hypertension or diabetes, may require additional eye exams, as advised by an eye doctor.

What will happen at your comprehensive eye exam?

Our team of experienced optometrists will use many different testing procedures to check your eyes. Our Chase, PA, office is fully equipped with the latest equipment. To determine visual acuity, you will be asked to read a standard eye chart and we will check refractive error. To diagnose or rule out any eye diseases, we will inspect your inner eye tissues with a high-powered lens. This exam also provides significant information about your overall health.

For more information about comprehensive eye examinations Call Shuswap Optometric Centre on (866) 242-0205 in Chase, British Columbia to schedule an eye exam with our optometrist, Dr. Allaway.

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COVID-19 UPDATE

Please be advised that all office visits including exams, frame selections, repairs, pick-ups, and drop-offs are by appointment only. We are required to wear a face mask in our office and ask that you bring yours to your appointment.

We are happy to serve our patients and community and are committed to keeping you as safe as possible.

Thank you.

The Shuswap Optometric Team