Considering that access to visual care is more difficult for some social classes in Canada, IRIS Mundial wishes to become more inclusive and has decided to implement new activities to improve access to visual care for people in need here in our country. The organization has decided to focus its first interventions in Canada on remote First Nations communities, following research that has highlighted their visual care needs. Indeed, in these communities, there is often a lack of structure in place to facilitate contact with vision professionals who wish to get involved. IRIS Mundial has a large pool of vision and health professionals, many of whom have already expressed a strong interest in getting involved with First Nations. However, most of the interested volunteers don’t know how to offer their services and don’t possess the necessary mobile equipment. IRIS Mundial could have a coordinating role in this case to facilitate access to visual care.

With this in mind, the organization has begun to develop and define a project with First Nations in collaboration with IRIS, The Visual Group (IVG), NewLook Vision Group (NVG), the Université de Montréal School of Optometry (ÉOUM) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC). The plans for this new sector of activities will be implemented  on a long-term basis.

The objective of this first project is to develop a hybrid service of visual care, both in person and remotely through a telepractice process, starting with  remote First Nations communities in Quebec. We wish to make this service continuously available and financially accessible for the patients thanks to some First Nations government programs. The vision professionals, who are called “service providers” and not “volunteers” in this new context, will be able to go on site for one to two-week stays in addition to offering remote follow-ups depending on their interest/availability. Activities are set to begin in  the spring of 2023.

Opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists and optometric assistants of all banners interested in learning more and getting involved can contact us at irismundial-info@iris.ca or fill out the interest survey here (in French) to give us their contact information and potential availability.