Dr. Michelle McKenzie's 2020 Moment

Dr. Michelle McKenzie is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Optometry degree. She completed an internship in Ocular Health with OMNI Vision Centre in Atlanta, Georgia and is TPA certified. Learn how Dr. McKenzie discovered her passion for vision therapy by treating a four-year-old girl with her first examination. 

Optometry is a profession full of diverse options and challenges.
I remember sitting in my office facing a 4-year-old girl for her very first eye examination. She had beautiful big brown eyes. The left eye was buried in towards her nose (esotropia or strabismus). I had been practicing long enough to know what was about to happen. At that time, I was recommending patching. The kids absolutely hated it and the results, if we got them, were okay but wouldn’t last. Eventually, I would refer the patient to a strabismus surgeon, who could evaluate and provide a recommendation to improve the eye muscles and satisfy the parents’ wish for a cosmetic fix. There was a good chance this would be one of several surgeries and the patient sitting in front of me might never see well out of that turned eye. Every patient and every outcome is always different.

Eye care has come a long way, but there’s room for growth.
Optometry has come so far with therapeutics and with imaging, such as advanced contact lens options, imaging techniques or advanced dry eye therapies. Sometimes there lacked the attention and funding needed for developments in other areas of optometry. I realized I was doing the same thing for 15 years without a change. I was reflecting on how little I had to tell that young girl in my chair about how I could help her long term. I was thinking of her growing up and not being able to enjoy 3D movies with her friends and learning to drive without depth perception. That’s when I happened to connect with another eye doctor who introduced me to vision therapy. This doctor had a full scope practice that included vision therapy and they directed me to the courses I could take and new skills I could learn to help my patients with options, choices, and success. Mentors are magical people that will challenge your ideas and give you things to consider, helping you grow.

Be passionate about solving unique eye care needs.
I educated myself and learned about a new model of vision and studied the development of the visual system. Based on my new knowledge I made changes to my practice. My other patients with strabismus (cross-eyes) now have options to consider including vision therapy. Most of them end up with 20/20 vision in both eyes and some ability to perceive depth, which is referred to as stereoacuity. They can become great readers, move with grace and enjoy 3D movies.

It’s important to see the big picture.
That young girl now has many treatment options that fit her needs. She is growing up and now that she is older, she is thinking about vision therapy. I hope to share with her how her story pushed me to expand my practice.

~ Dr. Michelle McKenzie
Bolton Optometry Clinic
Bolton, Ontario