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Greater Sudbury region is seriously short of ophthalmologists

Optometry society is concerned that shortage of eye care specialists means longer wait times and sending patients out of town for eye surgeries
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Sudbury optometrists are worried about a possible human resources crisis with respect to a decline in the number of ophthalmologists in the Sudbury area in the coming months.

The concern was outlined in a recent letter of concern from the Sudbury Society of Optometrists, a volunteer group that is part of the Ontario Association of Optometrists.  

The worry is that one local ophthalmologist has retired and another is planning to close his practice in June, said the letter.

In addition, there is the concern that two other health professionals, older ophthalmologists, could potentially retire in the next few years. This could cut the number of local ophthalmologists in half, said the letter. 

The letter was sent to HSN president and CEO David McNeil requesting that more Operating Room (OR) times be freed up in order to allow ophthalmologists to carry out more eye care surgeries.

"HSN also needs to take an active role in ensuring that new Ophthalmologists will receive the privileges and OR times they require to succeed in practice. There is no shortage of patients but there is a shortage of OR time," said the letter.

The society also stated the shortage of eye care specialists means "current waiting lists to see an ophthalmologist are about eight months and even longer for cataract surgery.”

This means that we could potentially be down to half the Ophthalmologists within a short time.

In response, the Sudbury Society of Optometrists has written a letter to Health Sciences North CEO David McNeil to ask what can be done about providing more time for operating room availability.

One of the key issues, according to the letter, is that Sudbury ophthalmologists are being forced to refer patients to Southern Ontario for routine ophthalmic care. 

"Often, senior citizens are making frequent trips to southern Ontario and incurring added expenses for hotels and meals to access timely care rather than receiving care locally due to prolonged wait lists. There is plenty of work for additional ophthalmologists," said the letter.

There was also a request that HSN step up and actively recruit for new ophthalmologists to come to Sudbury. 

The letter was signed by society president Dr. Jamie Maki, vice-president Dr. David Chisholm and treasurer Dr. Andrew Albiani.  requested comments from all three optometrists, but only Albiani responded. 

In a written statement to, the optometrist said in 2023, the region had eight ophthalmologists and still, wait times for some procedures, such as cataract surgery, “were extensive.”

What’s more, Albiani wrote, “children 18 years old and younger, and people with certain retinal conditions were not served at all. They had to travel to Toronto or Ottawa for care.”

And now, one of those eight no longer practices and another is set to retire this summer, while two more are approaching retirement, Albiani wrote, adding “and we still don’t have a pediatric ophthalmologist or vitreo-retinal ophthalmologist.”

“Common sense tells us that we need to at least maintain the number of ophthalmologists we had and recruit a pediatric and vitreo-retinal ophthalmologist.”

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for


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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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