By Sarah McGoldrick
The face of Canada’s eyewear client is changing. A more culturally diverse country has led to the requirement of more specialized and culturally diverse care.
Eyecare providers (ECPs) in even the most remote parts of Canada are having to learn how to address the needs of patients whose care goes beyond that of strictly medical.
are at greater risk for different eye He said these non-verbal cues tell health issues,” said Manuel Solis, Multicultural Marketing Manager for Transitions Optical.
He added part of the risk is because many patients do not know how to access care in their own language or culture or have restrictions within their culture about getting care.
ECPs now have to look at both cultural and in some cases religious requirements to ensure their patients are getting the best care possible.
Leaders in the industry have been working hard to address these needs through the creation of resources and running studies to better understand this growing market.
“Canada is becoming more diverse and a lot of times ethnic minorities are at greater risk for different eye health issues,” said Manuel Solis, Multicultural Marketing Manager for Transitions Optical.
He added part of the risk is because many patients do not know how to access care in their own language or culture or have restrictions within their culture about getting care.
To ensure proper care, he notes respect is very important. ECPs must respect the needs of their patients and work to address them and accommodate them whenever possible.

Who Needs Care?

“It’s important to create a welcoming environment and have staff on hand that can speak the language,” said Solis. “It helps make people feel at ease.”
He said these non-verbal cues tell a patient ‘I’m accepted here’.
Solis noted the demographics between Canada and the US are slightly different.
In the US the greatest risk lies among Asians (Chinese-Korean), African-Americans (African decent) and Hispanics.
Research conducted by Transitions Optical found that there were three key groups under-serviced in Canada: Asian (Middle East), African-Canadian (Caribbean) and Aboriginal.
As a result, a greater effort is needed by the health care system to ensure they are getting to treatment in a timely manner.
Research conducted by Transitions found that four out of 10 ethnic minorities scheduled an eye exam in the past year.
This leaves a large segment of the population not receiving basic care.
We are committed to raising awareness about eyecare in general as well as UV protection,” said Solis, adding many minorities do not take the steps to protect themselves against the sun which can lead to unnecessary damage. “With Canada’s cooler climate, there is a false sense of security.”

Education
ECPs need to educate themselves not just on the latest trends, but on the best way to care for patients with diverse backgrounds.
“We believe in the importance of education,” said Solis adding the number of patients ECPs will see from different backgrounds is going to increase significantly over the next few years as immigrant and migration continues within Canada and the US.
“Patients are not going to be the same as they were even two or three years ago. It’s important that ECPs better connect with patients through language, understanding and offering different ways of communicating,” said Solis. “Cultural competency will become more important.” •