3 May 2021

Best Eye Doctor in 20+ Years, Here in Canberra

| birder
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Hi everyone, I’m a newcomer to Canberra (having arrived in December 2010). Prior to that, I lived on the East Coast of the US and 3 years in Auckland. I’ve relied on the Riot Act heavily for suggestions for everything from doctors to restaurants for a special meal to hair dressers. So I wanted to share my best “find” in Canberra so far.

I’ve worn contacts for about 25 years. I’ve been having trouble with my vision in the past 2 years – in fact, about 18 months agao, my vision improved, leaving me unable to read up close (at least until I figured it out and got my prescription changed). I’ve had more trouble here after arriving here, and it seems to have caused more migraines (my migraines are visually induced most of the time).

READ ALSO The best optometrists in Canberra

Well, I went to one eye doctor (I won’t say who) who was shockingly bad. He didn’t even have equipment for you to look through to do the eye test. He just held up different lenses to my eyes to test my vision (and did a poor job at it). He was of no help at all. So I looked around for someone else in the CBD. I found Arcidiacono Optometrist via google and called them up. They were willing to bulk bill and I thought, “Why not give them a try?”

I can’t say enough good things about this optometrist. First, the equipment is amazing – the best I’ve seen outside of the Wilbur Eye Clinic at Johns Hopkins in the US (Wilbur is the top eye clinic in the world by most accounts). Second, the Dr. Arcidiacono was really smart. He gave me the answer that no one else had – I’m 40 and needed reading glasses! He said that sometimes your distance vision improved as your need for reading glasses developed. Well, that’s what happened about 18 months ago, and the eye clinic at the Auckland Hospital didn’t tell me that when I went in! Anyway, he also thought that my worsening migraines could have been linked to all my close-up computer work – since my contacts were too strong for this, I was severely straining my eyes. So he switched me to mono-vision (reading prescription in the left eye, distance in the right eye). It’s amazing – all of these visual symptoms went away and I haven’t had a migraine since I switched. Third, this guy is patient. I had to come back several times to work out the right prescription for both the right and left eye (trial and error). In addition, I went away to the US for two weeks and forgot my contacts! He happily gave my husband a copy of my prescription so I could get some contacts in the US. Fourth, his office has the coolest frames I’ve seen at any optometrist shop. Yes, they are pricey, but they are gorgeous.

I know this sounds a bit over-devoted to a simple eye doctor, but I’ve had real trouble with my eyes recently, and Dr. Arcidiacono really saved the day for me. If anyone is looking for an eye doctor who bulk bills, who is smart, and who is patient with problem cases, this is the guy to see.

His website is here: http://arcidiacono.com.au/ Apparently he has an office in Woden as well.

PS I know this sounds like an advertisement. But I have no connection to this doctor except as a happy patient.

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hey i thought id throw my 2cents into this discussion, albeit 3 years later lol.

Optometry and Ophthalmology.
we all agree & understand that Ophth’s are medical doctors.
How ever.
The problem lies within the role of the Optometrists. A lot of people speak on behalf of Optometrists and simply state” they make you read the letters and ask whether the number 1 or 2 is better”
now this may have been true once upon a time in lets says the 90’s, but in todays day and age its very much not the case. Every course, whether its the Dentistry, Medicine or even Optometry is a Master level entry degree. how do i know this? it says so on australia’s best medical school (could be the best in the southern hemisphere) Uni. of Melb.

speaking of UniMelb, they have now launched a “Doctor of Optometry” degree which requires you do the same medical entrance exam for Medicine.. they do the exact study years, and can indeed prescribe not only optical aids, but also medications/drugs (up to Schedule 4 medications).
they treat and diagnose eye disease and earn the title Doctor of Optometry.
but the question of whether they are Eye Doctors…. well you tell me what a physcian who studies a Doctor of Medicine (MD) does to earn the title doctor, and then compare it to Optometrists who do the Doctor of Optometry (OD).
Ofcourse they are of no way close to an Opthal who undergoes 14-16 years of training but none the less.

personally i feel that it would be doing justice by awarding them with the title Eye Doctor. i mean they do tick all the boxes.

Anna Key said :

On a pedantic note, isn’t it the Wilmer Eye Clinic, although I have to admit my knowledge of this comes from Tom Clancy novels

Yes, I am horrified! It’s been a tough week and this just goes to show you that you can’t really operate properly on 4 hours of sleep a night!


I can’t say enough good things about this optometrist. First, the equipment is amazing – the best I’ve seen outside of the Wilbur Eye Clinic at Johns Hopkins in the US (Wilbur is the top eye clinic in the world by most accounts).

On a pedantic note, isn’t it the Wilmer Eye Clinic, although I have to admit my knowledge of this comes from Tom Clancy novels

An optometrist could be a doctor ie they have doctoral-level qualifications, but they are not a medical practioner.

I understood that optometrist should bulk bill as part of a deal under Medicare which allows them to refer cases direct to medical specialists ie opthalmologists, which other non-medical professions cannot do eg a patient could not claim full medicare benefits if a physio referred them directly to a orthapaedic surgeon

birder said :

Are optometrists not considered doctors in Australia? In the US, optometrists go through doctoral-level training and are called “doctor.”

From what I understand, optometrists in the US (like some other health professionals like pharmacists, etc), earn a degree that entitle them to be called ‘doctor’. But it’s the equivalent of a Master-level degree for health professionals in Australia. That’s based on things like the scope of the curriculum, practical experience gained throughout the degree, length of the degree, the amount of research undertaken throughout the degree, etc. So essentially students still learn the same thing, it’s just that US students get to call themselves ‘doctor’ at the end. Of course, if they were to move to Australia and practice, they couldn’t continue to call themselves ‘doctor’.

Are optometrists not considered doctors in Australia? In the US, optometrists go through doctoral-level training and are called “doctor.” Yes, I do know the difference between an optometrist and opthamologist – my husband has had eye issues in the past and has been to numerous opthamologists. But I am still used to calling optometrists “doctor.” Thank you for the clarification for the differences in terminology (and training) in Australia. That said, Arcidiacono was better than any of the doctors of optometry that we’ve experienced in the US!

In terms of bulk-billing, I called several in the CBD and none of them did bulk billing. So I was under the assumption that bulk billing was not the norm. But perhaps it’s just in the CBD.

That’s why I love the Riot Act. Where else can I go to get such a great education on Canberra and Australia?

I can highly recommend Rachel Granatelli, optometrist at Specsavers Belconnen. She was the first person to identify that the reason I was losing my sight was nothing to do with my eyes and correctly surmised that I instead had a tumour in my head.
Yes, they have always bulk-billed for me.

Dont most Optometrists bulk bill? Ive only been to three but they all did.

AWESOME – but not really an eye doctor… that’s an ophthamologist

(I required emergency eye treatment (occy strap to the eye: eye saved by polaroid film on sunglasses)
and was rushed in from Braidwood to see the Ophthalmologist Dr Plushke – who spent most of my consultation bagging out the optometry profession (while providing expert analysis of the injury and organising a stay for me a TCH (it’s a shame he’s retired now))

What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist ?

All are eye care professionals, but only an ophthalmologist is a medically trained specialist.



An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has undertaken additional specialist training in the diagnosis and management of disorders of the eye and visual system.

Ophthalmology training equips eye specialists to provide the full spectrum of eye care, including the prescription of glasses and contact lenses, medical treatment and complex microsurgery.

In Australia and New Zealand, an ophthalmologist is required to have undertaken a minimum of 12 years of training, including:
• 5 years at a medical school, graduating with a degree in medicine,
• 2 years (minimum) as a newly qualified doctor undertaking basic medical training,
• 5 years of ophthalmic specialist training and successful completion of examinations set by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).

Many ophthalmologists are also involved in scientific research into causes and cures for eye diseases and vision problems.


Optometrists examine eyes, give advice on visual problems, and prescribe and fit glasses or contact lenses. If eye disease is detected, an optometrist will refer patients to an ophthalmologist for further management. In certain circumstances, ophthalmologists and optometrists work collaboratively in the care of patients, especially those with chronic eye diseases.

The typical training for an optometrist in Australia and New Zealand includes:
• 5 years at university leading to a degree in optometry.
• 1 year of pre-registration experience.

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