Eye Van completes its rounds around Manitoulin Island this week

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The Eye Van was stationed in Gore Bay last week as part of its visit of three communities on Manitoulin Island. On the left photo are Dr. Nazemi Feriba, Eye Van Driver AJ Johnston, Jossy Jose, Ophthalmology Assistant, Ryan Williams Ophthalmologist, Resident Dr. Seema Emami and patient Bobbi-Sue Kells in the Eye Van.

GORE BAY — The medical mobile eye care unit for vision loss rehabilitation, known as the Eye Van, began visiting three Manitoulin Island communities last week as part of its 50th annual tour.

“We saw 35 patients a day for the four days that we were in Gore Bay,” Ryan Williams, eye technician, said last week. “Yes, most of us in the Eye Van were part of the whole tour, which started in April.”

Eye Van employees include Dr. Nazemi Feriba, Resident Seema Emami, Mr. Williams, Ophthalmology Assistant Jossy Jose, and AJ Johnston.

Ms. Emami commended the local doctors for their work to ensure local patients do not develop diabetic retinopathy. “The on-site physicians are doing an excellent job of ensuring that patients do not develop diabetic retinopathy by making sure these diabetic patients are maintaining good glycemic control.”

“We are very excited to celebrate the Eye Van’s 50th anniversary this year,” said Lisa O’Bonsawin, General Manager of the Eye Van. “We are so grateful to the many people, including dozens of dedicated ophthalmologists, who have helped keep the Eye Van running over the years. In their own practice, getting through the pandemic has been challenging, but they have always helped provide ongoing service in the North.”

“And we’re grateful to everyone in the community who continues to support the program, from healthcare providers, Lions clubs, businesses like Manitoulin Transport, and the many volunteers who help each year. The fact that they are making a difference in the lives of others during these challenging times is overwhelming,” said Ms. O’Bonsawin.

Operated by Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada, the Eye Van is a mobile medical clinic that provides eye care services in northern Ontario communities where ophthalmic services are not readily available. With the dedication of 25 participating ophthalmologists and funding from the Ontario Department of Health, the Eye Van travels more than 4,000 miles each year to serve nearly 4,500 patients throughout northern Ontario.

Established in 1972 as part of the Blindness Prevention Program in partnership with Ontario’s ophthalmologists and surgeons, the Eye Van began as a humble camper equipped with equipment to perform eye exams and provide essential treatments. Today the Eye Van is a full truck trailer equipped with the latest medical technology to perform thorough eye exams and offer a wide range of treatments including minor eye surgeries. It is also fully wheelchair accessible and equipped with WiFi access.

The goal of the Eye Van’s annual tour is to help people in Northern Ontario’s communities prevent vision loss and improve their eye health through early detection and treatment of eye diseases. In fact, nearly 90 percent of patients who visit the Eye Van continue to be monitored by Eye Van ophthalmologists for eye conditions that, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.

The Eye Van tour continues this week October 3rd-4th in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and culminates in Little Current October 5th-7th.

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