The Mobile Eye Clinic
The Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) is an initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind, in conjunction with Lions Clubs, bringing regulated optometrists to schools, youth centres, colleges/universities, seniors’ residences and community health centres to perform comprehensive eye exams.
Mobile Eye Clinics take these important eye exams administered by registered optometrists into the community, thus eliminating the need for parents to take time away from work, or for fragile seniors to travel for eye care.
MEC allows large numbers of students or seniors to be examined in a convenient, efficient and effective manner. More eye exams administered equals more vision problems corrected.
Did you know?
- Vision loss is the most-feared disability.
- Vision loss costs Canadians $15.8 billion a year
- 50,000 Canadians lose their vision each year
- Seventy-five per cent of vision loss is treatable or preventable.
How do Mobile Eye Clinics (MEC) work?
The CCB and local optometrists, are currently working together to develop and test a prototype Mobile Eye Clinic in Eastern Ontario, with the intention of carrying the MECs across Canada.
The CCB and the Lions Clubs of District A4 have teamed up to launch the first series of Mobile Eye Clinics directed toward children and seniors.
Thus far, clinics have been held in a number of elementary schools and Seniors’ Long-Term Care Residences in Ottawa, Cornwall, Pembroke and surrounding areas of Eastern Ontario.
CCB Mobile Eye Clinic staff contact interested schools and arrange for the MEC van to be there for a scheduled clinic day(s). A consent form is sent home to parents for student participation, and appointment times are set. MEC staff handles the necessary paperwork and, along with Lions Clubs volunteers, ensure the process moves smoothly so each individual’s exam is a positive experience.
A similar system is used within Long-Term Residences for seniors, with each patient having a reserved appointment time on the scheduled day. Staff and volunteers assist where needed to keep seniors relaxed and comfortable.
A Registered Optometrist travels to the clinic site where CCB staff have set up all the equipment necessary for a comprehensive eye examination. A complete and thorough exam is conducted with each individual. Following the exam, the Optometrist issues a letter to the parent or Power of Attorney, includes a prescription for corrective eyewear if needed or refers the student or senior for further assessment.
The equipment used for a Mobile Eye Clinic is equivalent to what is found in a traditional Optometry office.
Why are eye exams in children important?
CCB Mobile Eye Clinics have found that almost 30% of the children tested have undetected vision issues. MEC has even discovered children who, unknown to their parents and teachers, had significantly poor vision. With corrective eyewear, these children now enjoy 20/20 vision.
Vision problems in children often go unnoticed because a child has never known any other type of vision so does not complain. They may believe everyone has blurry or double vision. Parents can be lulled into a sense of security thinking their child’s eyesight is fine, because their child doesn’t complain. Often kids don’t realize they have a vision problem until it’s accidentally found.
Early detection of vision problems is key to a successful social and academic life. Vision loss in children impacts their ability to learn and increases social isolation.
Some vision disorders interfere with classroom performance including inadequate eye coordination and reduced ability to focus. These conditions can cause blurred vision, eyestrain, headaches, and double vision when reading. Difficulty focusing on individual words causes children to lose their place when reading, have trouble when copying from the chalkboard, omit words, and experience problems when sustaining reading for long periods. Reading comprehension can suffer as a result of excess effort required to read print. Many children struggle unnecessarily, require excessive time to complete assignments, or simply avoid reading.
Additionally, Canada’s population includes more people from very diverse countries, therefore, education and the removal of barriers is increasing in importance. MEC helps to inform parents of the necessity for early intervention and brings optometrists into the schools and communities, increasing the sense of familiarity and comfort.
Why are eye exams in seniors important?
Mobile Eye Clinics in Seniors Residences have found over 56% of seniors examined have one or more ocular diseases or conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and/or problems stemming from Diabetes.
Aside from affecting the quality of life, seniors with vision problems are almost twice as likely to fall, resulting in injury. Some of these injuries may be severe, requiring hospitalization, surgery and aftercare, causing increased strain on our overtaxed health care system.
Visual acuity alone is not a good predictor of a person’s degree of visual difficulty. A senior with relatively good acuity (e.g., 20/40) can have difficulty functioning, while someone with less acuity (e.g., 20/100) might not experience any significant functional difficulties. Other visual factors, such as poor depth perception, limited side vision, extreme sensitivity to lights and glare, and reduced color perception, can also limit a senior’s ability to perform everyday tasks. These issues can also be exacerbated by the challenge of adapting to decreases in vision.
Other age-related health issues, such as dementia, hearing loss and mobility, wheelchair access barriers and the lack of available and affordable transportation compound to make visiting an eye doctor’s office completely impossible for many seniors.
MEC continues to operate mobile eye care clinics focusing on early detection and prevention of eye problems in children and promoting the physical and mental well-being of seniors living in care and in the community. With support from community partners, it is hoped that the MEC can expand to provide this vital sight-saving service to more communities throughout Canada, continuing the fight against unnecessary vision loss.