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Optometry and Vision Science Research Guide: Eye and vision care with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities

Research resources and information for vision science.

First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, eye and vision health

Vision care benefits for First Nations and Inuit

Government of Canada; Indigenous Services. Guide to vision care benefits for First Nations and Inuit. 2020. 

This guide provides information on the vision care benefits for eligible First Nations and Inuit covered by Indigenous Services Canada's Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program. Other items related to vision care are also covered by the NIHB program under other benefit areas, such as low vision aids, ocular prosthesis, scleral shell and medications used to treat eye conditions.

Related Guides


Rowe DJ. First-ever Inuktitut eye chart reaches Indigenous communities in their language. CBC News, Montreal [Internet]. 2023 Apr 7 [cited 2023 Apr 20].

Related research

Bhambra N, Dhillon J, Rahman S, El-Hadad C. Development and validation of the first Canadian Aboriginal syllabics visual acuity chart. Can J Ophthalmol. 2023 Feb 13:S0008-4182(23)00010-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjo.2023.01.009. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36796441.

Community collaborations

Wiikwemikoong First Nation, and the School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Waterloo.

The third largest First Nation in Ontario, with a population of more than 3,100 people, Wiikwemikoong is located on the eastern shores of Manitoulin Island. While the community has its own onsite health centre, traveling to access specialized health care is part of daily life for its citizens.  

Dr. Andre Stanberry, Director of Waterloo’s Optometry Clinics at the School of Optometry & Vision Science, is leading the clinics. Under his leadership, the School has launched several projects aimed at increasing access to preventative eye care in underserviced areas.

Faculty Profile

Dr. Andre Stanberry, Clinical Associate Professor; Clinic Director. School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Waterloo.


Bringing eye care to Wiikwemikoong: WOVS and First Nations partners are working together to help kids see. Optometry Newsletter. 2019.

Supporting reconciliation through healthcare. Optometry newsletter, 2019. 

Since 2008, the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health has been collaborating with the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) to widen the circle of knowledge around the importance of promoting vision health for Aboriginal peoples across Canada.

canadian association of optometrists logo


Patient outreach 

Children and their vision: what parents need to know. NCCIH. Children and Their Vision: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know contains accessible information about why establishing comprehensive eye care early in life is important for a child's long term development.

Healthy eyesight and childhood development: amblyopia. NCCIH. 2013.This fact sheet introduces a common and preventable childhood vision problem including its causes, symptoms, prevalence, and treatment.

Seeing clearly: A community-based inquiry into vision care access for a rural northern First Nation. NCCIH 2015. See: Brise LS, De Leeuw S. Seeing Clearly: A Community-Based Inquiry Into Vision Care Access For a Rural Northern First Nation. Canadian journal of optometry. 2015;77(2):34. doi:10.15353/cjo.77.508

Brochures available in Cree, Ojibway, Inuktitut, English and French

Cataracts. NCCIH 2012.

Diabetes and your eyes. NCCIH 2012.  

Glaucoma. NCCIH 2012.

The Indigenous Children Eye Examination (ICEE) project aims to provide vision screening and eye examinations for all children and youth aged six months to 18 years served by the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA), and to develop a self-sustaining model of ensuring ongoing eye care for the pediatric population there. 

The project aims to deliver eye care to over six thousand children in the following communities along the James and Hudson bay: Weenusk First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Moose Cree First Nation, and the Town of Moosonee.

Training videos

Explore educational videos directed at vision screening for pediatric populations. 

In the literature

Christian LW, Brawdy M, Wohlgemuth E, Hutchings N, Spafford MM. Teaching cultural safety principles: optometry student perceptions. Clinical and experimental optometry. 2023:1-8. doi:10.1080/08164622.2022.2151871

Faculty profile

Dr. Natalie Hutchings, Associate Professor; Associate Director of Academics and Student Affairs; and Dr. Marlee Spafford, Professor; Special Advisor to the Provost, Student Experience

Tousignant B, Brûlé J. Refractive error, risk of amblyopia and eye care services utilisation among Nunavik Inuit in Northern Canada. Clinical and experimental optometry. 2022;105(8):872-877. doi:10.1080/08164622.2021.1993057

Umaefulam V, Premkumar K. Diabetic retinopathy awareness and eye care behaviour of indigenous women in Saskatoon, Canada. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2021 Dec;80(1):1878749. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2021.1878749. PMID: 33491596; PMCID: PMC7850356.

Umaefulam V, Premkumar K, Koole M. Perceptions on mobile health use for health education in an Indigenous population. Digital health. 2022;8:20552076221092537-20552076221092537. doi:10.1177/20552076221092537

Finding academic literature

Hedges are standardized search strategies that can be used to help retrieve relevant articles.Hedges are also called filters, clinical queries, or optimal search strategies. They are not a guarantee of retrieving quality research; you still need to critically appraise results for quality and relevance.

Connect with your subject librarian for assistance in utilizing these comprehensive search filters.