About Sickkids
About SickKids

Agnes Wong , MD, PhD, FRCSC

The Hospital for Sick Children
Ophthalmologist-in-Chief
Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences

Research Institute
Senior Scientist
Neurosciences & Mental Health

University of Toronto
Professor
Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences

Chair Positions

John and Melinda Thompson Chair in Vision Neurosciences
The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto

Other Positions

Washington University in St. Louis
Adjunct Professor


Phone: 416-813-1500 ext. 202642
Fax: 416-813-5159
e-mail: agnes.wong@sickkids.ca
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7015 (Clinical)
Alternate Fax: 416-813-7040 (Clinical)

For more information, visit:

Dr. Wong's Eye Movement & Vision Neuroscience Laboratory

Brief Biography

Dr. Agnes Wong, MD, PhD, received her undergraduate degree from Boston University. She then obtained her MD degree from McGill University and completed her residency in Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto, where she also completed a PhD in Neuroscience and clinical fellowship in Neuro-Ophthalmology under the supervision of Drs. James Sharpe and Douglas Tweed. Dr. Wong then completed a combined research and clinical fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Wong is currently the Chief of the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). She is also the inaugural recipient of the John and Melinda Thompson Chair in Vision Neurosciences at the SickKids and University of Toronto. She is a senior scientist, as well as an active staff physician, at both SickKids and Toronto Western Hospital. Her research focus is on understanding the neural mechanisms of different forms of strabismus, abnormal eye movements and amblyopia. Wong currently holds four peer-reviewed grants (including two from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, one from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and one from the National Institutes of Health of the U.S.). She has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers and she has single-authored a textbook entitled Eye Movement Disorders. Her work has been recognized by a number of organizations, including a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, an inaugural Young Investigator Award from the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, a Young Investigator Award from the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society as well as an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation. She is a much sought-after speaker who has delivered over 110 named lectureships/visiting professorships.

Despite her busy research and clinical activities, Wong also dedicates herself to the training and mentoring of future generations of physicians and scientists. She has received numerous prestigious awards in recognition of the high quality of her clinical teaching and research supervision.

Research Interests

  • Brain mechanism of abnormal eye movements 
  • Brain mechanism and treatment of infantile strabismus (crossed eyes)

Research Activities 

My research focuses on the interaction between the eyes and the brain in normal and diseased states. I use sophisticated techniques to measure visual functions, eye movements, brain activities, and brain connectivity with the eyes to investigate how the normal brain functions, and how these brain functions change in the diseased states. Presently, I have three main research areas:

Crossed Eyes in Infancy (Infantile Esotropia) is a health condition with an incidence of 8.3 per 100,000 children 18 years of age or under. Contrary to the popular belief that crossed eyes is a purely cosmetic condition, children born with crossed eyes suffer from a number of visual and eye movement impairments. Our goal is to understand the brain mechanisms that cause crossed eyes and to find a cure for it. Specifically, our research aims to answer three major questions: 
(1) How do the brain circuits that control vision and eye movements differ between cross-eyed and visually-normal infants? 
(2) How can we alter the development of these brain circuits to prevent or cure crossed eyes in infancy? 
(3) Can early surgery prevent maldevelopment of these brain circuits?

Lazy Eye (Amblyopia) is a visual impairment of one or both eyes caused by inadequate use during early childhood; it cannot be corrected immediately by prescription glasses. It is the most common cause of visual impairment in one eye in the western world, and affects about 3 to 5 per cent of the general population. Although tremendous amount of resources are spent on preventing and treating lazy eye, approximately 50 per cent of children do not respond to therapies, and thus, many patients with lazy eye continue to have abnormal vision throughout their adult lives. Our goal is to understand how lazy eye affects the visual brain and to find a cure for it. Specifically, our research aims to answer four major questions: 
(1) How do the brain circuits in people with lazy eye differ from those with normal vision? 
(2) How does lazy eye affect three-dimensional (3D) depth perception and eye movements? 
(3) How do the eye-hand coordination skills in people with lazy eye differ from those with normal vision? 
(4) How can we develop more effective treatments for lazy eye?

Double Vision (Diplopia) / Strabismus from Brain Diseases is a common and disabling feature of many diseases that affect adults, including strokes, brain tumours, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Our goal is to understand the brain mechanisms that cause double vision and to find a cure for it. Specifically, our research aims to answer three major questions:
(1)  How are the three-dimensional characteristics of eye movements altered by diseases of the brain?
(2)  What are the mechanisms underlying these changes, and how do they adapt over time?
(3)  What are the effects of different kinds of surgery on vision and on brain recovery / adaptation?

Clinical Care Activities

Wong maintains an active clinical practice, specializing in Neuro-Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Neuro-ophthalmology deals with neurologic disorders of the visual system. Since approximately 45 per cent of the brain is related to the visual system, many brain abnormalities cause visual disturbances. These visual disturbances, if left undetected or untreated, often deteriorate and cause severe disability or become life-threatening. Dr. Wong applies her specialized training to help these patients. In addition, Dr. Wong specializes in strabismus, and offers medical as well as surgical therapy for these patients. She also conducts active research in understanding and finding a cure for childhood strabismus.

Areas of Specialty

  • Neuro-Ophthalmology
  • Strabismus

External Funding

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Principal Investigator) 
  • Canadian Foundation of Innovation (Principal Investigator 
  • Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (Principal Investigator) 
  • E.A. Baker Foundation for Prevention of Blindness, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Principal Investigator) 
  • National Institutes of Health, USA (Co-Investigator)

Achievements

Research Awards: 

  • Early Researcher Award – from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (2006)
  • Young Investigator Award – from the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (2003)
  • Young Investigator Award (Inaugural) – from the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (2003)
  • New Investigator Award – from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2002)

Clinical Teaching Awards (from University of Toronto): 

  • The J.S. Crawford Award (2012)
  • Dr. Fred Feldman Teaching Award (2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012)
  • Distinguished Teacher Award (2010)
  • Resident Teaching Award (2005, 2006, and 2007)
  • Dr. Fred Feldman Teaching Award (2005, 2007 and 2010)
  • PAIRO Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award (Nominee) (2005)
  • J.D. Morin Award (2003)

Awards for Research Supervision: 

  • Best Vision Science Research Program (VSRP) Student Paper, Annual Ophthalmology Research Day, University of Toronto (2012)
  • First Prize, Summer Undergraduate Research Program, Supervisor, Awardee Name: Sean Kennedy. Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto (2012)
  • Award for Excellence in Ophthalmic Research (First Prize)
  • Canadian Ophthalmological Society (2009)
  • Third Prize (Clinical Research Section)The 2nd Canadian National Medical Student Research Symposium (2010)
  • Best Student Paper, Annual Ophthalmology Research Day, University of Toronto (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011)
  • Best Fellow Paper, Annual Ophthalmology Research Day, University of Toronto (2009)
  • George Brown Award (Best paper in Clinical Science), The 21st Medical Students Research Day, University of Toronto (2007),
  • Best Student Paper, North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society Meeting (2006, 2008)
  • Best Research Paper, Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Ophthalmologists (2006)
  • Gold Award – Pfizer Film Festival for surgical technique and medical cases, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Meeting (2005)
  • Best Fellow Award (Inaugural), Frank B. Walsh Session of the 30th Annual North American Neuro-ophthalmology Society Meeting (2004)
  • Best Research Paper, Canadian Neuro-Ophthalmology Society Meeting (2004)
  • Alumni Award (for Best Fellow Paper), Annual Ophthalmology Research Day, University of Toronto (2003)

Publications

Please visit  EyeResearch.ca, to view Dr. Wong's publications.