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AAO NEWS Editors,

Communications Division

Tanya Lambden, OD Member Services Events Coordinator

Stacey Dominiuk, AAO Executive Director

Barbara Bruce, AAO Production

Pioneer Press Ltd. Editorial Office:

Alberta Association of Optometrists #100, 8407 Argyll Road Edmonton,AB T6C 4B2 Telephone: (780) 451-6824 Fax: (780) 452-9918 Email: alberta.association@ Web:

AAO News is published by the Alberta Association of Optometrists. All rights reserved. AAO members may use any or all published material in their own publications if source is listed.

IN THIS ISSUE: President’s Message ..............................1

AAO purchases low vision kit ..........1

Industrial Eye Safety Program ............3

CNIB and WestJet ..................................3

Ed and his new team ............................4

Upcoming political events ..................4

NPEC - Out with the old and in with the new......................................5

Eye See...Eye Learn set to roll out again this fall ..................................5 RCMP Program of Choice ..................6

OVC program surveys ........................6 Notes from the conference chair......6 Billing Corner ........................................7

Mobile Exam Kit ....................................7

World Sight Day Challenge ..............10



2008 / ISSUE I


t’s hard to believe summer is already upon us again.Time seems to go by more quickly all the time.

We had good turnouts for the regional meetings recently held across the province. Hopefully, you had a chance to attend and get some clarification on Alberta Health Care billings. Alberta Health’s Client Services Branch should always be your first point of contact regarding your claims, but please feel free to call the AAO office if you have any general billing questions or issues you cannot resolve with Alberta Health directly. I also urge you to follow Peggy Sloan’s advice and continue to build and maintain a relationship with your local MLA. Negotiations for our next contract and the Optometry Primary Health Reform Initiative are ongoing.

In June, I attended the AGM of the BCAO. BCAO continues to work on getting TPA legislation and it makes me feel so fortunate to practice in a TPA province. Hopefully our BC colleagues will have them soon as Ontario, PEI and Manitoba recently passed

TPA legislation in their provinces. Planning continues on our joint conference with BCAO to be held in May 2010 in Banff.

Things are coming together in our new shared building with the College. Our second floor tenant has signed a new lease and we have installed a new heating and ventilation system which will reduce our operational costs.We will be increasing the AAO’s building ownership proportion in order to allow both the College and Association to remain debt free.The building has been very positive for Optometry in Alberta.

I look forward to seeing you in Red Deer at our AGM and Continuing Education Conference. Enjoy the summer weather! Dr. Dan Lowe President

AAO purchases low vision kit for new Vision Enhancement Clinic CNIB’s new Red Deer branch is the location of a recently opened Vision Enhancement Clinic. With a goal of serving approximately 3000 patients throughout the central Alberta region, the clinic will draw upon the skills, experience, tools, techniques and expertise of local professionals. The multi-disciplinary approach will include optometrists who will focus on the optical corrections, the initial disease diagnosis and vision enhancement treatment devices or prescriptions.

Following the model used at the Rockyview Hospital Sight Enhancement Centre in Calgary, optometrists, ophthalmologists, general practitioners, CNIB staff and social agencies will work together to assess the patient’s needs and facilitate appropriate vision enhancement therapy and counselling as required. The AAO is supporting this clinic through the purchase of $10,000 worth of specialized equipment that will be on permanent loan to the clinic.

Seeing is Believing. . . get a clearer view by visiting our website at . . .


Alberta Association of Optometrists 2007 - 2008 Council Dr. Dan Lowe

Past President

Dr. Steve Larsen

President Elect

Dr. Neepun Sharma

Secretary/Treasurer, Director

Dr. Jason Pearce

Inter-professional Relations Leadership & Awards Planning Session Executive & Administration


Dr. Allan Jones

CAO Councilor


Dr. Femida Visnani

Member Benefits


Dr. Jim Asuchak


Dr.Tanya Lambden


Dr. Aaron Patel

Conference & Special Projects Communications & Public Relations Government Relations/Insured Services

Welcome, Welcome!!

The Alberta Association of Optometrists would like to welcome the following new and returning members to our association: Dr. Sukhi Gill Dr. Joel Heath

Dr. Dan Hurd Dr. Marie-Josee Laflamme Dr. Lori Lukey Dr. Natalia Porras Dr. Suraj Sharma Dr. Farrah Sunderji Dr. Magdalis Velazquez Gonzalez Dr. Andrew Denson and his wife Jodi are the proud new parents of a beautiful healthy baby boy. Oliver was born on July 7th and weighed in at 6lbs. 8oz. Both mom and baby are 2

AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2

Industrial Eye Safety Program – new partnership with CNIB The AAO is delighted to be able to support CNIB’s new industrial eye safety program.This national program is being piloted in BC and Alberta, with a roll out across the country in the near future.

The program will be presented in industrial workplaces and consists of a 90 minute workshop using a combination of reallife stories, shocking visuals and interactive exercises.The goal is to resonate with the audience on a level that makes them consider the personal cost of eye injury and motivates them to be diligent about wearing appropriate eye protection and following workplace safety protocols.

As a program sponsor, the AAO will be recognized through presentation and marketing materials. Our Occupational Vision Care (OVC) program will be front and centre and promoted to the company’s health and safety representatives as CNIB representatives set up workshops. Program participants will be given the message that their “eyes deserve an optometrist” and each participant will come away with a lens cloth and an information sheet or card from the AAO encouraging them to see an optometrist to protect their eye health.

“Over the years, AAO and CNIB have worked together to get our eye-health message to a broader public,” said Samira Hussain, Coordinator of CNIB’s Industrial Eye Safety Program. “We are excited about this new value-added partnership that will directly benefit a vulnerable population. CNIB’s Industrial Eye Safety Program is a unique opportunity to motivate workers to protect their eyes, while at the same time reinforcing the shared objectives of AAO and CNIB -promoting good vision health.”

In addition to providing financial support, the AAO will raise awareness of the eye safety workshops to its OVC client companies. According to OVC Program Director Brian Furman, the cross promotion of this program “will result in a win for CNIB, a win for optometry, and ultimately a win for the

workers who will have an increased appreciation for eye health and safety.”

At this fall’s AAO conference, CNIB will be presenting their fun, interactive industrial eye safety workshop as part of the assistants’ program so that optometric staff can learn first hand what the workshops are all about.

Workshop participants use vision-loss simulation devices to attempt everyday tasks.

CNIB and WestJet Help support CNIB’s vision health research, public education and vital vision support services by booking your WestJet flights online through will donate a percentage of all fares booked through CNIB’s website to CNIB.

1. 2. 3. 4.

Simply visit Click on Special Offers and Promotions Click on WestJet link Book your WestJet flight now

At no cost to you, it’s just that easy! AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2


Ed and his new expanded team….what’s happening? professions to the best of their abilities…”

By Peggy Sloan, GR Consultant

The election cycle you’d heard us talk about is alive and well.We are in year one of the cycle, and should not be surprised at major changes…..and without consultation!

The first major change most affecting health care delivery was the dissolution of the Regional Health Authorities and the creation of one Health Super Board. And - on July 9th, government abolished all the CEO positions of the nine health regions, plus those of the Alberta Cancer Board, Alberta Mental Health Board, and Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission.Three of the CEOs took on administrative positions, two involved with the new division of rural health. Gone are the very influential CEOs of Edmonton and Calgary!

While these dramatic changes may not directly impact optometry, the contact point(s) for educating the various regions about your new coverage for medically necessary could be quite different. This is an excellent example of a government making a significant change early in their mandate without notice or discussion. Members of the Regional Health Authority Boards were actually notified by phone the same day as the media release!

Some political gurus are likening this environment to that of the ‘hands on’ approach demonstrated by Peter Lougheed, which will be a definite contrast to the Klein era.This signals an environment where politicians are the decision makers and the bureaucracy has less power.Watch for other major changes such as the creation of an economic council…with international members…new tax policies, and a move towards the reduction in the number of municipalities in Alberta, to name a few! It may be a great time to NOT be high on the government’s radar screen!

The new health minister, Hon. Ron Liepert has promised a new health delivery strategy, and hinted at several changes, all with a constant theme of ‘consolidation’. Here are some quotes which demonstrate his vision for health care delivery in Alberta:

Pharmaceutical Strategy...”…in the past 25 years total drug spending…increased 3 times faster than either physician or hospital spending and six times faster than Alberta government revenue…….it’s not just drugs….(we are)looking at large equipment purchases…..stationed in one location to serve all three provinces (AB, BC, and Sask). Primary Care Networks…”Doctors today…are mostly interested in being medical doctors, not businessmen….one difficulty…..attempting to get the electronic health record up and running….needed buy in from the doctor….easier to get buy-in from a group of doctors… centre….with a full time office administrator, a full time technology person….working for a primary care network”. Long Term Care…”….I’m not sure we’re using all of the various


• • •

Wait Times…”I believe we should be striving for a system that does not have a wait time for anything…”.

Publicly Funded System…”I believe that we are going to do harm to patient care if we aren’t open to a debate on how best to deliver health care to Albertans…”. Scope of Medicare Coverage...”…50% of letters…are Albertans…asking why certain things aren’t covered…”.

Upcoming political events where optometry should be visible We need local ODs to participate and help us fill a table at these dinners. AAO will pay half and the OD enjoys the full taxable benefit. Call Stacey at the AAO for details and to confirm your attendance. Premier’s Dinners: October 23 October 30 November 6

South: Central: North:

Lethbridge Red Deer Grande Prairie

Other events:

Fundraisers such as golf tournaments and constituency AGMs are scheduled across the province.These social events create an excellent atmosphere for getting to know the MLAs.

Access = Opportunity!

If you are registering a team in a constituency event this season, please contact me or Stacey at the AAO for direction. It would be preferable to have teams registered under the association name, rather than by individual doctors – as this increases the overall visibility for optometry. Upcoming events are posted on the PC Party of Alberta website at . Thanks to everyone who attended the AAO regional meetings held in May and June – with your support, new and enhanced relationships with government MLAs will be nurtured throughout this election cycle.

Help your association position optometry as the primary eye care provider in Alberta!

AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2

NPEC - Out with the old and in with the new By Tanya Lambden

It is a busy time for NPEC as Eye Health Month 2008 preparations are under way and the new TV ad is being fine tuned. As previously mentioned, the old ad with the lights going out has reached the end of its small screen life and a new ad is being developed. The new ad has a completely new look, but continues to deliver the message of serious eye disease and optometry’s role in helping to prevent it. The theme of the new ad is “Inside and Out” and it emphasizes that while eyes may look great on the outside, it takes an optometrist to know if they are healthy on the inside. Preliminary story boards and work ups of support materials (poster, brochures, etc) look great! Another important point to remember is that all the research and production for the new TV ad is completely funded by the industry partners of the Eye Health Council of Canada and we should try and support them in return where possible.

Fleishman-Hillard, the PR firm hired by NPEC (again with sponsorship dollars), is hard at work on Eye Health Month 2008. Long lead stories have gone out to magazines and

Readers Digest has already responded. Look for an important article on eye health in the October issue. As well, the Eye Dare You contest will continue. Start thinking of ways now that you can help promote eye health in the month of October and remember to tell us about them. Maybe have an information night at the office or do a talk to a local seniors group.

One complete research project indicates that the previous TV ad was very successful in reaching our target audience (female head of households) and that those that saw the ad are definitely more aware of the importance of routine eye care. NPEC is also looking at possible ways to reach other target groups and increase optometry’s visibility in other ways. The CAO website will now be showing up in the top sections of internet searches related to vision or eye concerns.

Stay tuned for future updates and look for the new ad designs in the fall. As always, if you have any questions or would like to volunteer to help out, please contact me at

Eye See…Eye Learn set to roll out again this fall Once again, preparations are underway for fall distribution of the Eye See…Eye Learn packages to Alberta public schools. Some 46,000 parent packages are scheduled for distribution in October.

Although we do not yet have any word on whether or not the Province will be extending the funding for this program, based on strong support from the membership, the AAO Council has voted to continue to support the program in 2008 using association funds. We have requested, and are waiting for a date, to make a presentation to the Cabinet Policy Committee on Health and Community Living, with the hope that they will support the maintenance and expansion of this early detection program.

Given the number of early inquiries we have already received from the schools, we know that the program will continue to be well received by both teachers and parents. Bringing youngsters into the optometrist’s office at an early age is the goal of this program and it has been a tremendous success so far.

The AAO wants to establish a mechanism to track the recall success of Eye See...Eye Learn. If you have the technology, and are willing to track the return of ESEL students, please contact Karen at the AAO office. Ideally, we'd like a variety of clinics, i.e. rural plus Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, and Lethbridge. We'd like to know how many return for eye exams in 1 or 2 years, and whether or not they received a recall notice, or initiated the second visit on their own.

We are extremely pleased however to be able to announce that corporate support for this unique program continues to be strong. Essilor has confirmed that they will cover the cost of lenses for the free eyewear, Optiq will supply the frames, and Hilco will supply cases. New this year...Essilor is adding a lab for access by southern Alberta - so ESEL eyewear orders will be filled in either Edmonton or Calgary!

AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2


RCMP Program of Choice #14, Vision (Eye) Care As reported in the In Touch newsletter earlier this year, regular members of the RCMP are now eligible for Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) examinations performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.The benefit code for this examination is: 600034. A prescription by a medical doctor, optometrist or ophthalmologist is required. Pre-authorization is also required prior to the examination. Please contact the RCMP’s Occupational Health Office to obtain pre-authorization for OCT exams.

choice. If the RCMP member chooses to pay for the benefit, an itemized receipt and a prescription, if required, must be sent to the appropriate Occupational Health Services Office for reimbursement.

Should you have any questions and/or concerns, contact: Colleen Fahey-Budd,Team Leader, Federal Communications and Customer Relations:Tel: 506-867-4877 or E-mail:

The RCMP determines client eligibility, eligible benefits and, if necessary, authorizes benefits. Blue Cross processes provider claims. If the claims are approved, a cheque and payment summary are sent to the provider (optometrist clinic).

The optometry clinic verifies members’ eligibility and, when necessary, obtains from the RCMP the authorization to provide the service or benefit.The benefits are then supplied and claims submitted for payment to Blue Cross or the RCMP, as appropriate.

RCMP members must present their RCMP Health Identification card and prescription to the RCMP approved provider of

Occupational Vision Care program surveys Business is always changing, and in Alberta even more rapidly so these days. In order to gain some new insight into our client companies, in early July we sent out more than 600 OVC client surveys (some companies have multiple divisions).

We also recently sent out a survey to our participating ODs to learn how you feel about the program. If you have NOT yet received an OVC survey and wish to provide us with feedback, please contact our office and we will ensure you get one right away.

The information we glean from the two surveys will be used as input into a three-year business plan we are working on for the OVC program. In 2007, this program paid out $872,000 in eye exam and professional fees to participating ODs, and thus has become a valuable member benefit and an important component in the success of the association.


Notes from the conference chair By Dr. Jim Asuchak

This fall, plan on meeting friends and colleagues at the Capri Hotel in Red Deer, September 25 through 27th, for the AGM and CE conference.

We have pulled together what we hope will be an exciting line up of speakers.This dynamic group of lecturers will cover topics including practice management, binocular vision, and some of the latest cutting edge technologies that will benefit your practice.

Your staff will also enjoy topics ranging from dispensary management to increasing their knowledge-base of clinical issues in the exam room.This will invigorate and renew excitement in your practice.

And of course, there will be plenty of time to re-connect with our colleagues during the member mixers, at the Optifair, and in between sessions! Be sure to mark your calendars for October 2009 when the meeting will be held at the luxurious Hyatt in Calgary.The program line up for this conference is being pulled together already.

Then – although it may seem a long time away - planning is well underway for the exciting joint conference with the BCAO to be held in Banff in May of 2010.This will be a great opportunity to network with our peers at the Fairmont Banff Springs, learn from some of the most respected speakers, and enjoy the special ambience of the mountain location.

I look forward to seeing you in a few months’ time at the conference in Red Deer!

AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2

Billing Corner Welcome to the new Billing Corner! Coming out of some lively discussions at our recent regional meetings we decided to establish a section of the newsletter for billing questions. Some of the more frequent questions, as well as some of the more unusual ones (just for interest sake) will be posted here.We welcome your questions and examples so that we can share them with your peers in future issues.

Incorrect referrals: Q: Your local GP/FP routinely sends patients to your office for eye care, and tells the patient their visit is covered by Alberta Health Care.What do you do?

A: Clarify with the patient (assuming they are age 19- 64) that their visit would be covered by Alberta Health Care ONLY if it’s medically required or for a follow up visit for a cataract, glaucoma etc. However – if it’s for a routine vision test, they are responsible for paying for it.Then follow up with the local GP/FP to clarify that with them as well. Use of modifier for 19 - 64 age group Q: When would the modifier SPCDRG be required on a claim submission? A: When the patient uses Plaquenil.


Balance billing for 19 - 64 Q: Can optometrists ever balance bill patients? A: No Co-management for 19 - 64 Q: In a co-managed environment, can an unlimited number of B901s be billed by the OD? A: Yes! Text requirement for billing the 19 - 64 Q: When does a B905 require text with the claim submission? A: When the condition is NOT glaucoma, retinal detachment or neurological disorder. Re-submitting after correction Q: If I have a claim rejected by Alberta Health (for whatever reason), and I correct it and re-submit, do I start a new claim code? A: No – it is imperative that you use the same claim code as your original submission.

Mobile Exam Kit – updated policy The AAO has a portable examination kit that was originally provided for use in the Eye See…Eye Learn program.The kit has been used sporadically since then by various AAO members for various reasons. Council decided that it was time to update the policy and did so at the June meeting. A copy of the updated policy can be found at the AAO Members’ Section of the website at:

Students at the Alexander First Nations Reserve get a lesson in eye ball anatomy. Dr. Celina Shih brought in cow eye dissections and lots of extra pairs of gloves for a more hands on experience at their annual science fair in May. AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2

In late May and early June the association held a series of regional meetings in Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Lethbridge.The well-attended sessions gave members an opportunity to get an update on association activities and to learn about government relations, before spending time in an interactive billings seminar. 7


AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2

AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2


Take The World Sight Day Challenge, October 9, 2008 By Jane Ebbern

The Optometry Giving Sight World Sight Day Challenge (WSDC) raised almost $75,000 from Canadian optometrists, their staff, patients and our corporate partners in October 2007 to help fund sustainable primary eye care projects in the developing world. Doctors took the challenge by donating their eye exam fees on World Sight Day and/or committing to a regular monthly or annual donation. In addition all participating practices were sent a full kit of materials to promote the WSDC in their practice and in their community. Here’s what some of the participants said:

“Our patients and staff were very excited about participating in the World Sight Day Challenge! We're looking forward to next year.” Dr. Dan Lowe, Calgary Alberta

“It was great to participate in World Sight Day this year.The staff got enthusiastic about the one-day event and were proud of their accomplishments that day.The press coverage of the event created a very positive buzz in the community and many patients that day were pleased to hear that their examination fees were being contributed to such a great project. As a Doctors Eyecare Network (DEN) member, these contributions are part of DEN’s Giving Circle.” Drs. Oliver, Martin and Johnson, Wetaskiwin, Alberta

The World Sight Challenge on October 9, 2008, promises to be even bigger and better. You can register your interest on-line at or by calling 1-800-585-8265 ext. 4. Find out more how you can be part of this fun promotion to support the AAO’s International Charity of Choice.

“Most of my patients were thrilled when they were informed where their fees were going on that day. It reinforced my decision to participate in the World Sight Day Challenge.” Dr. Larry Gies, Edmonton, Alberta

“I’m a parent as well as an eye health care professional.That’s why supporting World Sight Day is such a priority for me.We have to find ways to provide regular eye care for children in countries where no such services have existed before.” Dr. Dorrie Morrow, Sherwood Park, Alberta Past President of the CAO

Sherwood Park Eye Centre participates in World Sight Day

Not only are these Eye See…Eye Learn stickers used for safety at Halloween, but they also work as decorative duct tape and a reflector all at the same time! (photo taken by Stacey this summer at South Edmonton Common) 10

AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2

BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP IN AAO (Non Members cannot purchase AAO products or services) The Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) is your professional association.We offer a wide range of services to members, and want to make sure these services are useful and of value to you.Your Director of Member Benefits is Dr. Femida Visnani. Our goal is to serve you and meet your needs… we must know what those needs are. Please feel free to call the association office for ANYTHING related to your practice….if we don’t know the answer, we will try and direct you to the appropriate source.

Professional communication: AAO members receive a regular newsletter containing updates and pertinent information. In addition, the association produces the Optomart, which is a classified ad publication, free to AAO members.The AAO staff are trained to answer member inquiries and provide support to individual members and/or regional societies. Both can be viewed online at

Recommended schedule of professional fees: The AAO prepares a comprehensive guide recommending fees for all services performed for optometric patients, which is made available to you and third party vision care administrators. Public information materials and aids: Information pamphlets, brochures, posters, tear sheets and stickers are produced by the AAO and made available to members. Some of this promotional material is made available for purchase, and some is distributed free of charge.AAO members have access to two display booths, which can be used at trade and career fairs. Provincial media campaigns are orchestrated through the association office to promote optometry and raise awareness throughout the province. Non-members cannot purchase AAO products.

AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2

Member manuals are provided by the AAO to be used as a reference tool.They contain information on provincial and federal third party programs, member benefits, copies of our bylaws, plus the current recommended fee schedule. Online resources: Power Point presentations – covering subjects such as glaucoma, diabetes, children’s vision, etc. available online to members only!

Your AAO membership includes:

A voice in legislative affairs: The AAO is the designated body representing optometry and meets with the provincial government on your behalf for a variety of reasons.The AAO is your voice when we meet with Alberta Health and Welfare to negotiate fees, and discuss optometric billing codes and procedures.The AAO continues to fight on your behalf for ‘adequate’ funding for coverage of clinical conditions.We monitor provincial legislation, attend workshops, and ensure that optometry’s needs and concerns are considered by government.The AAO orchestrates a Political Action Plan which involves members in the process and ensures our visibility at Premiers Dinners, MLA Banquets, political fund raisers, conferences etc.

AAO vision care programs are available to members only. Our industrial safety eyewear program is the flag ship for Canada, and provides substantial non dues revenues. Participating doctors’ names are circulated to client companies, thus increasing their visibility within their practicing community.

Group plans offering special rates, and negotiated by the AAO include disability and life insurance, credit card rates,Alberta Mobility, courier services, Quikcard, telephone-on-hold messaging, and our newest addition “Maxopia.” Maxopia offers excellent discounts to AAO members for office supplies and equipment.AAO members don’t pay a sign up fee! The association is constantly on the lookout for group benefit plans which would be of interest to the membership. Regional meetings and workshops are organized and facilitated by the association annually.These offer continuing education credits and social interaction with fellow AAO members, and provide a forum for information exchange between the elected Council and the field practitioner. AAO annual general meeting, continuing education conference and optifair are organized each year and AAO members attend at a much reduced rate. Our Optifair is one of the most successful in Canada, attracting large numbers of suppliers and doctors.

Membership with the Canadian Association of Optometrists is only open to members of the provincial association. The CAO represents the national interests of optometrists in Canada, and works on your behalf with government, industry, vision care patients, the public and other health professionals.A significant benefit provided by the CAO has been the effective public awareness campaign, administered by NPEC. In addition CAO supplies your annual Optometrist’s Desk Reference.The last section of the ODR is an excellent policy reference and should be kept within easy reach in every optometric office!

The association is always looking for ways to enhance our value to the membership, and our services are not limited to those

mentioned above. In addition, we regularly gather information via surveys, which are then analyzed and shared with the

membership.We act as a communications clearing house, and pride ourselves on being able and willing to assist the membership wherever possible.



AAO News / 2008 / Issue 2


Stacey Dominiuk, AAO CNIB’s new Red Deer branch is the location of a recently opened Vision Enhancement Clinic. With a goal of serving appro...


Stacey Dominiuk, AAO CNIB’s new Red Deer branch is the location of a recently opened Vision Enhancement Clinic. With a goal of serving appro...