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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Agnes Wong , MD, PhD, FRCSC

The Hospital for Sick Children
Ophthalmologist
Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences

Research Institute
Senior Scientist
Neurosciences & Mental Health

University of Toronto
Professor
Ophthalmology, Neurology and Psychology


Phone: 416-813-1500 ext. 202642
Fax: 416-813-5159
Email: agnes.wong@sickkids.ca
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7012
Alternate Fax: 416-813-7040

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. Wong then completed a combined research and clinical fellowship in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dr. Wong is currently Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, and Psychology at the University of Toronto, and a staff Ophthalmologist and Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Dr. Wong is the former Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at The Hospital for Sick Children, where she held the inaugural John and Melinda Thompson Chair in Vision Neuroscience for 10 years. She is also the former Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Wong is a clinician-scientist and one of a handful of clinicians in the world who dedicate their clinical practice to pediatric Neuro-Ophthalmology and strabismus. Her research focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms of different forms of strabismus, abnormal eye movements, and amblyopia. More recently, Dr. Wong has become interested in vision screening, as well as developing a novel chromatic pupillometry technique as a new clinical and scientific tool to investigate and monitor various diseases.

Dr. Wong has held many peer-reviewed grants, including grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and National Institutes of Health in the USA. She has published over 100 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.

Despite her busy research and clinical activities, Dr. Wong also dedicates herself to the training and mentoring of future generations of physicians and scientists. She is a much sought-after speaker who has delivered over 150 invited lectures around the globe. She has received numerous prestigious teaching awards at the University of Toronto, as well as an Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in recognition of her contribution to continued ophthalmic education.

Research Interests

  • Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
  • Vision Screening
  • Mindfulness and Physician Wellness

Research Activities 

Lazy Eye (Amblyopia) is a visual impairment of one eye caused by inadequate use during early childhood; it cannot be corrected by prescription glasses. It is the most common cause of visual impairment in one eye in the western world, and affects about 4% of the general population. Although tremendous amount of resources are spent on preventing and treating lazy eye, approximately 50% 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 do the eye-hand coordination skills and audiovisual integration in people with lazy eye differ from those with normal vision? (3) How can we develop more effective treatments for lazy eye?

Universal Vision Screening in Kindergarten Children. Amblyopia is an important public health issue—early detection and treatment is key. Amblyopia can be treated by eyeglasses to correct for the refractive errors, surgery to realign the eyes, and/or patching to encourage usage of the affected eye. Treatment is much more effective if it begins before age 7 than if it is delayed after that age. However, half of all cases of amblyopia are undetected until after 5 years of age. Refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism) are an important public health and education issue—early correction is vital for learning. Despite universal coverage for eye examination in Ontario, many social barriers exist for children to access eye care. Early vision screening is critical but not universally available for children in Ontario. The overall goal of this research is to design a comprehensive eye care program using robust level 1 evidence to support which types / combination of vision screening methods and comprehensive eye examination are most effective in detecting eye problems that are also most cost-effective. The specific objectives of this research are to: (1) examine and compare the differences in the composite outcome of the detection rate of amblyopia and significant refractive errors requiring treatment in JK and SK students through an intervention using various screening strategies; and (2) compare the costs and effects of different approaches used to detect amblyopia and significant refractive errors in school-age children.  

Physician Wellbeing Through Innovative Mindfulness Training. In recent decades, mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) have rapidly grown in popularity. However, there is a gap in research around the applicability of current MBIs—created primarily for patient populations—to address the unique and hectic work environments of physicians. While physician wellbeing has been empirically shown to impact the quality of patient outcomes and is a key element of well-functioning healthcare systems, physicians’ wellness has drastically decreased in the last decade. We are currently conducting an innovative MBI tailored specifically for physicians, and evaluate which aspects of physician wellbeing are enhanced by it. In addition to its practical significance, this research has theoretical and methodological significance to the rapidly expanding field of MBIs, by broadening the discipline’s knowledge base and methodology. We see this research as an opportunity for Canada to be a leader in the growing international dialogue around physician wellbeing and the application of mindfulness within healthcare settings.  

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): 

  • TORIC Top Teacher Award (2014)
  • 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: 

  • ARVO Member-in-Training Award for the Best Poster (2017)
  • James A. Sharpe Award for the Best Fellow Paper, Annual North American Neuro-opthalmology Society Meeting (2016)
  • Best Vision Science Research Program (VSRP) Student Paper, Annual Ophthalmology Research Day, University of Toronto (2012, 2016)
  • 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)