University of Waterloo soon to be home to the Waterloo Eye Institute

Waterloo Eye Institute - Artist Rendition, Courtesy Kitchener Today

The University of Waterloo has an exciting venture on the horizon — the creation of Canada’s leading eye and vision care centre of excellence to address the global vision crisis. 

The two-story 67,000 square-foot Waterloo Eye Institute will combine existing and new facilities to provide optometry services, spaces for clinical research, and will also include an ambulatory surgical centre and telehealth centre.

The institute will offer the expansion of services in vision therapy, concussion, myopia and dry eye disease, and will introduce students to patient contact within these services earlier in their programs, starting right in their first year. 

Along with the centre providing benefits for students, it will also work to serve the greater local community. The Waterloo Region is one of the fastest-growing communities in Ontario, with more than 600,000 residents, and the demand for eye and vision care services is only increasing. 

The Institute will also aim to develop a world-leading ocular imaging facility, with a focus on eye-brain interactions. New imaging methodologies such as quantum technologies, which utilizes the electromagnetic field to image objects with a resolution beyond what would be possible in classic optics, will also be pursued. Along with this method, retinal imaging and eye movement analysis may be used to detect and monitor eye and brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Research into these areas could benefit health care for Waterloo residents and Canadians overall. 

The ambulatory surgical centre will also provide ophthalmological services — services for medical conditions related to the eye — for medical and surgical treatment that will alleviate the demand on hospital operating rooms. This will help decrease waiting times for patients. 

The Waterloo Eye Institute aims to allow for better patient access to the highest level of care, facilitate interprofessional education and collaboration, and support the discovery of new techniques and treatments. 

As of spring of this year, the School of Optometry and Vision Science received the university’s approval to move forward with the plans. Director Stan Woo said the goal is to break ground on the Waterloo Eye Institute in late 2021 or early 2022. To keep up to date with developments in the project, check out the Optometry and Vision Science website.