The IWK Health Centre Eye Clinic is a world-class facility, recognized internationally for excellence in patient care, research, and teaching in the fields of Pediatric Ophthalmology, Orthoptics, and Ophthalmic Medical Technology. Located on the 6th floor of the IWK Children’s Site, the eye clinic runs multiple clinics each day with a highly specialized team of ophthalmologists, orthoptists, ophthalmic technicians, and administrative staff who are committed to providing the best and most compassionate care to patients and their families.
The Eye Care Team deals with a variety of ocular problems with a focus on the most effective, evidence-based treatments for their patients. Our comprehensive service includes:
- Treatment of strabismus in children and adults
- Treatment of amblyopia
- Cataract removal
- Treatment of glaucoma
- Investigation and treatment of pediatric neuro-ophthalmic disorders
- Diagnosis and management of oculo-genetic disorders
- Treatment of blocked tear ducts
- Treatment of retinal disorders
- Low vision rehabilitation
- Electrodiagnostic testing
The Eye Care Team has six clinics operating at two sites. These include:
The IWK Heath Centre
- Eye Clinic
- Orthoptic Clinic
- Electrodiagnostic Lab
- Low Vision Clinic
The Cobequid Community Health Centre
- Eye Clinic
- Orthoptic Clinic
The Bayer's Lake Community Outreach Centre (OPENING NOVEMBER 2023)
- Eye Clinic
- Orthoptic Clinic
What to Expect During Your Visit to the Eye Clinic
Who will you meet at the Eye Clinic?
Our team of administrative staff greets all patients coming to the Eye Clinic. They are well known for their friendly and efficient front-line service. Additionally, they are experienced and comfortable interacting with a pediatric population. At each visit, you will be registered for the clinic, or clinics, you are attending.
Depending on the type of clinic, you will see either one, or a combination, of the following eye care professionals:
The Ophthalmic Technician
Ophthalmic Technicians help collect data and measurements that allow the ophthalmologist to determine the correct diagnosis and treatment of some eye diseases. Ophthalmic Technicians carry out tasks such as taking digital pictures of the front or back of the eye, taking images of the retina with an instrument called an “OCT”, determine intraocular pressure, and complete visual field testing.
Orthoptist/Ophthalmic Medical Technologist
A member of the Eye Care Team who performs the diagnostic evaluation and non-surgical treatment of disorders of vision, binocular vision, eye movement, and eye alignment in children and adults. Orthoptists at the IWK Health Centre hold a Master of Science degree in Clinical Vision Science along with a Graduate Diploma in Orthoptics/Ophthalmic Medical Technology. Orthoptists work in the Eye Clinic performing the preliminary examination of patients and in the Orthoptic Clinic performing extensive investigations and recommending therapy.
A team consisting of two Orthoptist/Ophthalmic Medical Technologists with specialized training in electrodiagnostic testing carry out the performance and interpretation of ERGs (electroretinograms), VEPs (visual evoked potentials), and other specialized tests. These tests give computerized recordings of electrical activity of either the back of the eye (the retina) or the back of the brain (the occipital cortex).
The Ophthalmology Fellow
An ophthalmologist who is doing additional training for at least one year in the subspecialty of pediatric ophthalmology.
A medical doctor who is undergoing additional ophthalmic training. They examine eye clinic patients under the guidance of our staff ophthalmologists.
A medical doctor who has training to perform a comprehensive medical eye examination and is legally and professionally qualified to diagnose and treat all eye problems. After receiving a medical degree, an ophthalmologist undergoes five years of additional training in the medical specialty of ophthalmology, the study of the eye and its related systems. A pediatric ophthalmologist then completes additional studies resulting in a specialization in pediatric ophthalmology.
When you arrive at the Eye Clinic for your appointment, proceed to the registration desk. At the desk, you will be greeted and registered by one of our administrative staff. You will then have a seat in our waiting room. When an Orthoptist or Technician is ready to see you, they will bring you to their examining lane for your examination. When they are finished with your examination, they will either send you home or, if you are seeing the Ophthalmologist, they will ask you return to the waiting room. When the Ophthalmologist is ready to see you, they will come and get you.
The Eye Exam:
An eye appointment at the IWK will take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the purpose of the appointment, the amount of testing required, the patient’s age, and their willingness to cooperate with the examination. An appointment at the Eye Clinic can involve:
- Visual acuity testing (determining how well you see)
- Eye alignment and movement assessment (determining if your eyes are straight and how they move)
- Binocular function testing (determining how well your eyes work together)
- Color vision testing (determining how well you see colours)
- Visual field testing (measures your peripheral vision, or how well you can see above, below, and to the sides of something you’re looking at)
- Testing the internal pressure of the eyes (done to see if you have glaucoma)
- Dilation of the pupils using eye drops (make the patient's pupils bigger)
- Examination of the inside of the eyes (examination of the retina and optic nerve), outside of the eyes (examination of the cornea, conjunctiva, and sclera), the eyelids, and lashes
- Refraction (determining if a patient needs glasses)
The components of a comprehensive eye examination that a patient receives at the Eye Clinic can vary depending on the patient’s age, ability, family history, and general health.
One of the most important aspects of the Ophthalmologist’s exam is the examination of the inside of a patient’s eyes. This is usually done after the Orthoptist or Ophthalmic Technician puts drops in the patients’ eyes.
Eye drops that dilate the pupil play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of several eye problems. "Dilating drops" are used to make the pupil larger and to relax the focusing muscle of the eyes. A large pupil is helpful when examining the inside of the eye, which is essential to diagnose and treat eye diseases. Also, relaxing the focusing muscle of the eye allows for a more accurate assessment of the refractive error (need for glasses) in children and in some adult patients with strabismus. Finally, dilating eye drops are sometimes used to treat eye diseases, such as amblyopia.
How long do dilating drops last?
The dilating eye drops used for an examination of the eye can last from 4hrs to 24 hours, depending on the strength of the drop and the individual reaction of the patient. Pupil dilation tends to last longer in people with lighter colored eyes (irises). The dilating eye drops used to treat certain eye diseases, such as amblyopia or inflammation in the eye have a longer duration of action, with pupil dilation lasting up to 2 weeks. Despite the longer duration of action, daily administration of the drop may be necessary for treatment.
What are the side effects of dilating drops?
Patients will sometimes complain of light sensitivity and blurry vision (especially when viewing things near their face). Both side-effects gradually disappear. For light sensitivity, some patients find that sunglasses can be helpful after a dilated eye exam. After dilation, children can return to school, but teachers should be made aware that the child could have blurred vision when reading. Allergic reactions are rare with dilating drops but can include lid swelling and red eyes. Side effects from Atropine drops (which have a longer duration of action) can include fever, dry mouth, flushing of the face, and a rapid pulse.
Our staff are well trained and experienced in communicating with children and adults of all ages and abilities. Using child-friendly testing methods, our staff aim to make each visit an enjoyable experience for our patients. With this said, we recognize that coming to the hospital can be a scary experience for children and some may have difficulty cooperating. In these cases, we have a variety of methods we use to best accommodate the child and their family.
What should I bring to my Eye Clinic appointment?
- All eyewear (glasses and contacts) currently being used.
- A list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications currently used.
- Any favorite toys or books to entertain your child while at their visit.
- Snacks for young children
- Sunglasses or brimmed hats in case dilating drops are to be used.
- A support person who can drive the patient home. Adult patients will not be able to drive home safely if dilating drops are used.
Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service
The Eye Care Team’s Services are accessed by referral from ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other medical specialists. Appointments at the Eye Clinic are prioritized based on each patient’s individual medical needs.
The Eye Care Team has two clinic locations, so please check your appointment letter to see where your appointment will take place.
Use the main door near Tim Hortons, walk down the hall past the central registration area (you do not register there) and take the first right. We are located at the end of the hallway past the endoscopy clinic. The entrance to the Eye Clinic is on the right. When you arrive at the clinic door, please knock and have a seat. An Orthoptist will come and get you when they're ready for you.