Waterloo Eye Institute and You

People of all ages are dealing with conditions that threaten their sight and their quality of life.

Seniors face age-related conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma and stroke. Very young children show signs of progressive myopia that can lead to learning difficulties and even vision loss. And all of us may be at risk of vision problems as our use of screens increases.

At the Waterloo Eye Institute, we’ll be able to harness innovative research that can help to address the growing vision care crisis by advancing eye and vision care and giving patients the right care when they need it the most.

WEI and the profession

In our role as a national resource and leader, the School has a unique responsibility to support the public and help advance the profession of optometry across the country.  With your support, we will create Canada’s foremost centre for eye and vision care

The Waterloo Eye Institute will:

  • Promote inter-professional education and collaborative practice in an integrated, modern education and clinical care environment - embracing relationships with ophthalmology, family medicine, pharmacy and other health professions
  • Build two frontier research centres that will harness our strengths in biomedical sciences and ocular imaging while also expanding our capacity to conduct clinical research.
  • Develop innovation capacity and infrastructure in tele-optometry to increase access to eye and vision care for underserved communities, promote access to specialty care services such as low vision rehabilitation and develop a national diagnostic reading and imaging centre.
  • Enhance continuing professional development and distance learning with robust infrastructure including a curated educational case and image library with an evidence-based foundation - gaining the potential to link to every corner of the nation.
  • Train the next generation of optometrists by expanding clinical training and providing unique learning opportunities that ensure new optometrists are qualified for the highest scope of practice in North America.
  • Elevate the profession nationally by providing the evidence needed to influence policy and supporting the expansion of optometrists’ scope of practice.

For more information on how to get involved in alumni fundraising, please visit our OD Initiatives page or contact Kelsey Gagnon.”

WEI and Waterloo Region

Waterloo Region serves a community of 650,000 residents and is one of the fastest-growing communities in Ontario. As a result, local eye and vision care is under pressure.

Many residents are facing a future with complex age-related eye diseases that can lead to vision loss or blindness, including macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

They must frequently make multiple visits to different providers for eye and vision care, often facing long wait times or needing to travel to Toronto or London for treatment. They face long waits for routine eye operations such as cataract surgery or services like vision therapy. By 2041, an estimated 97,000 Waterloo Region residents will be waiting over 166 days to receive cataract surgery With the Ontario government cancelling many non-emergency surgeries for over a year during the pandemic, wait times have continued to grow exponentially. As surgeons face a large backlog for years to come, patients continue to suffer.

We believe that the Waterloo Eye Institute can be the solution. As a new state-of-the-art eye and vision care centre, the WEI will provide seamless eye and vision care when they need it most – from wellness, through surgery, to rehabilitation - for patients of all ages from 1 to 101.

The 67,000-square-foot, two-story centre of excellence will function as a “one-stop” shop to coordinate all your eye care needs here at home in the Region.

The Waterloo Eye Institute will:

  • Help attract top retinal surgeons to the Region to ensure patients no longer need to travel outside the community for treatment
  • Increase access to specialized care in growing areas like vision therapy, low vision rehabilitation, dry eye, myopia control, concussion, contact lenses, ocular disease and more.
  • Establish a national eye and vision Tele-optometry Centre that will provide access to care for peoples in remote, underserved communities.
  • Create new research capacity that embraces the power of Canada’s most innovative university and elevates our strengths in biomedical sciences, ocular imaging and clinical trial research.
  • Harness the “eye as the window to the brain” to help detect and treat vision problems, eye diseases (macular degeneration, glaucoma), diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

WEI and all Canadians

Canadians are facing a vision care crisis and we need groundbreaking research and innovative, responsive care to solve it.

One in four Canadians are struggling with vision loss, costing Canada’s health-care system a staggering $33 billion each year. As our population ages, that number is expected to reach as high as $56 billion by 2050.   

As our demographics change and our population grows, so does the need for critical eye and vision care. The risks are extensive: people with vision loss suffer far greater rates of depression, experience more falls and have twice the mortality rate of those with good eye health.

Among Canadian children with reading difficulties, 60 per cent have undetected or uncorrected vision problems that can affect their ability to learn and reach their full potential.  

With your support, the Waterloo Eye Institute’s integrated research and clinical facilities promise change the future of health care — in Canada and beyond.