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Program Spotlight: Clinical Vision Science

Posted by Dawn Pickering on November 27, 2019 in News
Dalhousie's Clinical Vision Science Program is the largest orthoptic training program in North America. (Bruce Bottomley photo)
Dalhousie's Clinical Vision Science Program is the largest orthoptic training program in North America. (Bruce Bottomley photo)

The Clinical Vision Science Masters Program (CVS) is an innovative graduate program developed through a unique partnership between the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie. It was implemented in 2003, based on 20 years of training expertise of its predecessor, the School of Orthoptics and Ophthalmic Medical Technology at the IWK Health Centre. CVS students learn to analyze and relate research findings to clinical experience, skills vital for superior diagnostic and therapeutic services, and they graduate well prepared for both clinical and research-based practices.

Students have an option to graduate after two years of study with a graduate diploma and eligibility to sit for certification examinations in Orthoptics, as well as Ophthalmic Technology. With a willingness to relocate, the employment rate is 100 per cent.  Students may then choose to complete a MSc in Clinical Vision Science. This supports the program's foundation in evidence-based practice. Because of the clinical immersion necessary, CVS students, who work directly with patients, and faculty operate from the IWK. The program only accepts a maximum of 6 post graduate students a year.    

The field of orthoptics deals with disorders of binocular vision and ocular motility, such as lazy eye (amblyopia), misaligned eyes (strabismus), and double vision (diplopia). Orthoptists do the clinical testing to assess vision conditions, as well as recommend and monitor therapy. They both enhance the specialized eye care patients need, and make it more accessible. Ophthalmic Technologists are qualified, at the highest level, to assist in the diagnostic evaluation, treatment, management and care of patients with deficiencies and abnormalities that affect vision and the visual system.

Clinical Vision Science works closely with the Dalhousie Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, collaborates across the Faculty of Health and has regular visiting professor activities. In 2018, the North American Fusion Society met here and in 2022 CVS is excited to be part of the Canadian Ophthalmology Society's annual meeting in Halifax and host the Orthoptic Certifying examinations.   

This unique offering is not found anywhere else on this continent. Dalhousie's Clinical Vision Science Program is the largest orthoptic training program in North America and the only orthoptic program offering a Masters level education. CVS is the only dual program offering eligibility to certify as an orthoptist and ophthalmic technologist.

CVS by the Numbers

  • In 2015, the program graduated its 100th student.
  • 75% of orthoptists employed in Atlantic Canada are graduates of the program
  • 40% of the Canadian Orthoptic Society is comprised of CVS graduates.