For over 50 years the University of Waterloo School of Optometry & Vision Science has been working to enhance quality of life for our community through their vision. With the knowledge that 80% of all blindness is preventable, the School makes it a priority to bring awareness to the importance of safeguarding their vision and addressing eye care needs.
Optometrists aim to remove vision as a barrier, and provide patients with the care they need to increase quality of life and a sense of belonging in society. The Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation recognizes how important this is and has generously supported the School’s Seeing is Belonging program, which provides essential vision care and resources to identified at-risk groups within our community.
Specifically, the project supports recent immigrants, seniors, and persons living with mental health difficulties and/or addictions. In the Kitchener-Waterloo community, we have seen a variety of vision care needs within these three at-risk groups. For example, many new immigrants, and especially recent refugees, have never had an eye exam, or may be suffering from vision threatening eye diseases, such as glaucoma.
See a video about our outreach to recent refugees who have settled in Waterloo Region.
Children are also vulnerable, as a strong relationship has been identified between vision and learning. Vision-related problems like uncorrected refractive error, the prevalence of binocular vision or amblyopia can impact how a child sees, learns and interacts with their surroundings.
Another example can be found among the elderly. Seniors face the reality that vision changes with age and the risk of developing vision threatening diseases increases with age. Vision rehabilitation and an accurate spectacle prescription can help prevent falls, and allow better integration with the community. The prevalence of many eye diseases also increases dramatically in this group.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Community Funding program has been a valuable tool for our clinic in providing vision care for our refugee patients and patients who are on community-based financial assisted programs, says Christine O’Krafka, Optometry Clinic Receptionist. The burden of purchasing new glasses and extra diagnostic testing is not an option for most of this patient demographic.
Vision problems or vision loss can affect anyone, regardless of whether they are considered at risk or not. There are still a surprisingly high number of people who have not had an eye exam, thereby putting them at risk for undetected eye disease and uncorrected refractive error. Having regular, comprehensive eye exams can help prevent or manage vision loss and treat vision problems that can influence how you interact with the world and your quality of life. Put your vision first - See your local optometrist and or visit the School of Optometry & Vision Science clinics. #HealthyVisionMonth