A sight to behold; Future of eye care in region looking brighter

Published on April 4, 2009
Dr. Joe Wijay looks at he optical coherence tomography machine. Wijay said the machine is part of a complete eye care centre which will be built soon and will house Wijay and two other ophthalmologists once its up and running. Star Photo by Cliff Wells

Corner Brook -

Dr. Joe Wijay is happy to be working with some of the latest eye-care equipment in the country and within a couple of years he'll be accompanied by some of the newest ophthalmologists, too.

This Western Regional Hospital Foundation's case for support for 2008-09 included a optical coherence tomography (OCT) machine, visual field machine, retinal acuity meter, autorefractor, slit-lamp camera, vitrectomy with endo laser, orthoptist equipment, A/B scan, yag laser/SLT combination unit, portable operating table along with lenses and attachments.

Wijay said some of the equipment is already here. He said the OCT machine, which was purchased with help from the Lions, and the combination laser are already in use.
He said Dr. Justin French and Dr. Sohail Safi will be joining him as soon as their training is complete.

He said French will be receiving the additional retinal surgery training he wanted so that will delay his return to Corner Brook until the spring of 2010. Wijay said Safi will be looking at starting in Corner Brook when he finishes his residency in 2011.

Wijay said the new eye care centre will be completed before the new ophthalmologists are in place.

He said construction on the clinic will be started once the tendering process is complete. He hopes construction will begin on the 5,000 square foot facility this fall.

"We have all the equipment approved and we have some of the equipment already," Wijay said. "It's already here.

"The OCT machine that we didn't have here up to now was available only in St. John's and patients had to pay to have this test done because it was available in the private sector," Wijay said. "Now they don't have to go to St. John's and they don't have to pay."

He said the machine gives CT scan-like images of the eye structures, but it uses light instead of radiation or magnetism. He said they recently got a similar system at the Health Sciences Centre.

He said there is a piece of equipment they are waiting to buy. He said the vitrectomy machine which is used for retinal surgery.

"We want to make sure we get the state of the art," Wijay said. " Because Dr. French is doing his training, he'll know what exactly we'll need. We've looked at some of it, but we haven't ordered it yet. As we get nearer the time, we'll know exactly what we want."