- EPSAA – Eye Physician and Surgeons Association of Alberta 50% 50%
The Eye Physicians and Surgeons Association of Alberta (EPSAA) is a registered non-profit society representing Alberta’s ophthalmologists and providing information to for the general public and government about the role ophthalmologists play in maintaining and treating eye health.
EPSAA is dedicated to advancing eye health in Alberta, encouraging the study of ophthalmology, and pursuing research into diseases of the eye. Our membership includes practicing ophthalmologists, ophthalmology resident physicians, and honourary members such as retired ophthalmologists.
Ophthalmologists are the only eye health professionals with validated training and experience in surgical and complex medical eye care. There is a clear pathway to becoming surgical eye care provider: medical school followed by successful completion of a certified surgical residency program and standardized Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons examinations. There are 16 Canadian universities offering programs in ophthalmology.
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THE THREE O’S OF EYE CARE
- Opticians are eye care technicians trained to fit and provide glasses, contacts, or other sight-enhancing devices. Opticians can complete a two-year college degree.
- Optometrists are eye care providers who assist with screening, examining and sometimes diagnosing or treating mild eye disease. They frequently refer patients that require more expert care to ophthalmologists. Optometrists are also trained to provide glasses and contact lens prescriptions. They typically complete an undergraduate degree, followed by four years of training at a School of Optometry. They graduate with a degree as a Doctor of Optometry but do not complete any medical school or surgical training. They are neither physicians or surgeons.
- Ophthalmologists are medical doctors specialized in treating all eye diseases and performing complex eye surgeries. They typically complete a university degree, followed by four years of medical school training, then five years of residency training in ophthalmology. Many complete up to three more years of subspecialty fellowship training to become experts in a specific area of eye disease. Any Albertan needing eye surgery or the treatment of a complex eye diseases requires care from an ophthalmologist.
SURGERIES AND REFERRALS
The vast majority of ophthalmological surgeries in Alberta result from referrals from family doctors and/or optometrists to ophthalmologists. Opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists work closely in a continuum of care with clear delineation of services regulated by Alberta Health and 28 self-governing regulatory colleges under the Health Professions Act.
ACTIVE COLLABORATION WITH THE ALBERTA GOVERNMENT
Ophthalmologists have partnered with AHS to improve access to eye care through reduced cataract surgery waitlists, central triaging, and other initiatives. The Chartered Surgical Facilities program is being implemented in Calgary and Edmonton to focus on cataract surgeries, and EPSAA members are on the front line of this process.
Work continues with the Alberta Surgical Initiative to improve access to eye surgeries. EPSAA has advocated for a clear definition of “wait times” and developing system-wide standards. Wait list data is being reviewed and confirmed with a goal of streamlining the process on a zone-by-zone basis. Currently, cataract surgery wait times have shown considerable improvement in Calgary and Edmonton.