Clear vision for the future: Canadian Ophthalmological Society celebrates Indigenous Children Eye Examination Project, impacting 6,000 lives to date
Tuesday August 8, 2023
TORONTO, Aug. 8, 2023 /CNW/ – August marks Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and as good vision is significantly important for a child’s growth and well-being, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) wants to raise awareness about the importance of eye exams and highlight the work that’s being done by the Indigenous Children Eye Examination (ICEE) project. To date, ICEE has helped provide eye care to over 6,000 Indigenous children in the towns of Moosonee, Moose Cree First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Weenusk First Nation and, most recently, Île-à-la-Crosse across Canada.
ICEE, founded by COS member and pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Kourosh Sabri, is developing a first-of-its-kind, self-sustaining model of eye care for Indigenous children and youth aged six months to 18 years. This model is designed to benefit Indigenous children in underserved areas of Canada and involves training local youth to assess children for eye problems. The next trip to Attawapiskat First Nation, scheduled for September 15-17, will include a team of five ICEE members, who will be providing training to local youth and will also assess and treat children for possible eye problems.
“Eye screening for children is crucial to detect issues that may go under the radar and cause problems later on in life,” says Dr. Kourosh Sabri, Pediatric Ophthalmologist & Strabismologist and founder of ICEE. “Many children in these Indigenous communities have to travel over one hour by plane to see an eye care professional. Through the ICEE program, we discovered that over 50 per cent of the Indigenous children in these communities have never had an eye exam before. It is critical to develop a national vision screening strategy to prevent long-lasting vision loss, especially in children. ICEE aims to become the national outreach program for delivering eye care to Indigenous children living in the remote and under-served parts of Canada.”
According to a 2022 survey by the COS, half of Canadians report that they have their children’s eyes checked every two years (53 per cent), and watch for warning signs such as squinting, holding objects very close to their eyes, eye rubbing, sensitivity to light or poor hand-eye coordination (50 per cent). With only half of Canadians monitoring their children’s vision and recognizing warning signs, it is crucial to raise awareness by promoting regular eye check-ups to safeguard their visual well-being.
“Given that vision plays a crucial role in a child’s overall development, maintaining good eye health should be a priority,” says Dr. Vivian Hill, Pediatric Ophthalmologist and Strabismologist and Chair, Council on Advocacy, Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “An eye exam by an eye care professional can help detect common childhood vision problems like refractive errors, strabismus and more, so if caught early and treated effectively, it can avoid more serious problems in later years.”
For Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society outlines some of the common vision disorders among children:
- Strabismus: A vision disorder in which one or both eyes are not properly aligned when focusing on an object. The eye can turn in, out, up or down and is typically caused by poor eye muscle control.
- Amblyopia: Commonly known as lazy eye, a vision disorder resulting in decreased vision in one or both eyes due to insufficient visual stimulation of the visual pathways. Amblyopia can be caused by strabismus, refractive errors and visual deprivation (e.g., cataracts, ptosis, etc.).
- Refractive errors: A vision disorder in which the shape of the eye prevents a focused image from forming on the retina, causing blurry vision at either near or far distances. The types of refractive errors include:
- Myopia (distance images are blurry),
- Hyperopia (close-up images are blurry),
- Astigmatism (blurry and stretched out images), and
- Anisometropia (difference in refraction between the two eyes)
For more information on eye health, visit seethepossibilities.ca.
About Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.
About Indigenous Children Eye Examination
The Indigenous Children Eye Examination (ICEE), a national project started in 2020, aims to bring self-sustaining, long-term eye care to Indigenous children in Canada by providing vision screenings and eye exams for children aged six months to 18 years across the country. By training local nursing staff and members of the communities served, ICEE ensures follow-up can be done locally, creating a sustainable model for pediatric eye care. For more information, visit iceenow.ca.
For media inquiries and more information, please contact:
Bojana Duric, [email protected], BlueSky Communications