The Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) is an initiative to bring regulated optometrists to schools, youth centres, seniors’ residences, and community health centres to perform essential eye exams.
The purpose of this vital program is to get people the regular exams they need to maintain their eye health and to detect eye diseases early to prevent vision loss.
In conjunction with Lions Clubs, the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) has created the MEC in order to bring important eye exams into the community, creating better accessibility to care for working adults, their children, and seniors.
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
- 75% of vision loss is treatable or preventable
How does the Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) work?
The CCB and optometrists are currently working together to develop and test a prototype Mobile Eye Clinic, with the intention of carrying the MEC across Canada.
Thus far, clinics have been held in numerous elementary schools and long-term care senior residences throughout Eastern Ontario.
With the help of MEC staff and Lions Club volunteers, clinic day(s) are arranged at schools and senior residences, consent forms are provided, and positive eye exam experiences are ensured for each patient.
A registered optometrist travels to the clinic sites where CCB staff have set up all eye examination equipment. Following each exam, optometrists issue a letter to the parent or Power of Attorney, including a prescription for corrective eyewear or for further assessment if needed.
Why are eye exams in children important?
Mobile Eye Clinics have found that almost 30% of the children tested have undetected vision issues.
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.
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 create inadequate eye coordination and reduced ability to focus, interfering with classroom performance. These conditions can cause blurred vision, eyestrain, headaches, and double vision when reading. Many children struggle unnecessarily, requiring extra time to complete assignments, or simply avoid reading.
Additionally, Canada’s population is becoming increasingly diverse, therefore, education and the removal of barriers is becoming more and more important. MEC helps to inform parents of the necessity for early intervention and brings optometrists into the schools and communities.
Why are eye exams in seniors important?
Mobile Eye Clinics in senior residences have found over 56% of seniors examined have one or more ocular diseases or conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and/or diabetes-related vision problems.
Vision problems, such as poor depth perception, limited side vision, extreme sensitivity to lights and glare, and reduced color perception, can limit a senior’s ability to perform everyday tasks. Aside from affecting quality of life, seniors with vision problems are almost twice as likely to fall, resulting in injury.
Other age-related health issues, such as dementia, hearing loss, 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.
The MEC focuses 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, we hope that the MEC can expand to provide this vital sight-saving service to more communities throughout Canada, continuing the fight against unnecessary vision loss.