St. Joseph's Health Care London Vision Lead for Ontario Health Study

Oct. 04, 2011

Dr. William Hodge of St. Joseph’s Health Care, London (St. Joseph’s) and the Ivey Eye Institute (Ivey Eye) is the vision lead for the Ontario Health Study (OHS), one of the largest research studies online. With approximately nine and a half million Ontarians eligible to participate, the OHS will include input from more than 280 senior scientists and clinicians at universities, hospitals and research institutes across the Province in 30 different fields. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to participate in something that will change the landscape of health care in the world for the better,” says Dr. Hodge.

The vision group is a partnership with The University of Western Ontario and is comprised of medical eye doctors (ophthalmologists), optometrists, vision scientists, community doctors and international advisors and includes Ivey Eye Institute’s Drs. John Gonder, Cindy Hutnik, Alex Mao, Francie Si and Monali Malvankar. Together the group has formulated the eye and vision related questions asked of OHS participants and designed the assessment that will “include the most relevant and efficient parts of an eye exam,” according to Dr. Hodge.  Participants chosen will be tested for visual acuity, have pictures taken of their lens’ and retinas as well as measurements of their retinal thickness and be checked for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes. “We are also looking for measurements and observations on the shape of the eye and the way that light passes through it, cornea thickness and pressure,” adds Dr. Hodge.

Dr. Hodge says the questions and exam will allow researchers to find patterns in the results. “Thousands of questions could be answered because the study will follow people that could go on to get diseases 5-10 years down the road. My hope is that unique medical relationships across specialties will be created and together researchers can discover how diseases of the eye are caused and treated in conjunction with diseases that affect other organs in the body.” Information collected by the OHS will be available through the study’s data access committee for use by researchers around the world.

The OHS is also a unique opportunity for participants. Participants chosen for examination will receive some of the measurements recorded, including their visual acuity, along with the range of normal values for comparison.

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For more information, please contact: 
Kelsi Break, Communication and Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Phone: 519 646-6100 ext. 64792  
Email: kelsi.break@sjhc.london.on.ca

Backgrounder: The Ontario Health Study 
The Ontario Health Study (OHS) is an ongoing research study investigating risk factors that cause diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and Alzheimer’s. Open to residents of Ontario who are 18 or older, the OHS is the largest population-based health study ever conducted in Ontario. Participants go online at OntarioHealthStudy.ca, where they fill out health-related questionnaires. It takes approximately 30 minutes to fill out the Study’s initial online questionnaire.

Participants may also take part in optional follow-up questionnaires on areas such as mental health and diet and physical activity. Researchers will use the health information collected by the OHS to study how lifestyle, environment and family history affect health over time and to develop strategies for the prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases.

In the next phase of the Study, participants may be invited to visit an assessment centre or community-based clinic, where they will be given the opportunity to undergo extensive physical tests covering such areas as lung function, grip strength, vision and hearing, bone health, resting heart rate and percentage of body fat.
The not-for-profit Ontario Health Study is funded by four organizations: the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, Public Health Ontario, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The OHS is also part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, which is made up of five regional health studies across Canada.

For more information on the Study, visit OntarioHealthStudy.ca

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