It was a day of celebration inside the Lions Vision Care Centre at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre as a new Retinal Imaging Camera was unveiled. The Camera is a specialized piece of equipment that allows ophthalmologists to properly see and monitor damage to retinas, caused by a variety of medical conditions, including diabetes.
This Camera comes at a cost of $160,000, which was fully funded thanks to donations, including significant gifts from Lions Clubs, which have always been very supportive of ophthalmology needs at the Health Sciences Centre, having already given over $800,000 since 1998. Last year, they announced gifts totaling $75,000 to the Retinal Imaging Camera (from Lions Clubs from Thunder Bay, Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba, along with Lions Clubs International).
“As Lions, we were challenged by Helen Keller to be the ‘Knights of the Blind’ and our ongoing fundraising and support for the Lions Vision Care Centre is one way we are serving our community in that capacity,” said Angela Sharbot, Lions Past District Governor. “I’m proud we’ve been able to garner support from multiple Lions Clubs for this project and that other groups and individual donors have also taken it upon themselves to make gifts in support of the critical need we had for this specialized Camera.”
“There is a significant need in our community for eyecare and I’m very grateful that the Lions Clubs, and many kind donors have provided such leadership in funding the equipment we require to take care of thousands of patients each year,” said Dr. Leland Dhurjon, Ophthalmologist, Lions Vision Care Centre at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. “With this new Camera, I can now view almost double the area of the retina that could be viewed with our past camera. This new treatment requires no dilation, contact lenses or pressure on the eye, making it a much more comfortable patient experience.”
Craig Kozlowski, Manager, Ambulatory Care at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre stressed the importance of the new Retinal Imaging Camera to the Lions Vision Care Centre. “In the past, patients requiring the type of imaging provided by this Camera had to travel to Southern Ontario or Winnipeg, often making the trip every 6 months for ongoing diagnostic and monitoring of their eye condition. So we are aiming for less travel, more comfort, and shorter visits, while providing quality evidence-based care; all a win-win situation.”
Bob McEwen is one person who’s experienced first-hand the urgent need for eye-care. Diagnosed with macular degeneration (the wet variety) in his left eye several years ago, he had rapid deterioration in his vision, and knew he needed immediate attention if his vision was to be saved. “It’s terrifying,” he recalled. “When you first experience vision loss, you have no way of knowing if treatment is going to work for you, and you suddenly become very aware of how different life would be with a loss of vision. Luckily, Dr. Dhurjon was able to use the previous Camera to view my problem, and I had injections in my eye that allowed my vision to resolve itself and I was back to normal in a few days.”
Mr. McEwen is the owner of Ham’s Vision Centre and chose to make a gift from his business to ensure that future patients will have access to the same excellent care he received. “For what it’s done for me, it was a natural thing to do,” he said. “As much as this gift is an expression of my gratitude for care, I have another motive which is to make sure our Hospital has the best equipment available now and in the coming years so that we continue to attract and retain the best ophthalmologists who are so important to the ongoing eye health of our community.”
The Retinal Imaging Camera is located inside the Lions Vision Care Centre on the 2nd floor of the Hospital and will serve approximately 1,500 patients a year. Chair, Board of Directors, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, Jody Nesti said, “The commitment and passion our donors have is remarkable and I would like to especially thank the Lions Clubs for their ongoing drive in equipping the Lions Vision Care Centre with essential tools for our ophthalmology team. We are very grateful to all the donors that made this Camera a reality for our community.”