An organization representing Ontario eye doctors says funding cut backs for cataract surgeries across the province are short-sighted.

On Monday, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre announced the procedures were on hold for several weeks because of reduced funding from the province.


Tim Hillson, a spokesperson for the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, says any procedures that reasonably improve a patient's vision are worthwhile. (Supplied)

A spokesperson for the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said more efficient surgery is encouraging people to have the operation sooner.

"Some studies have been done that show that it's about two percent of cataract surgeries that may be … being done inappropriately," Tim Hillson said.

"So I don't think it's a huge number. It's not like there's tons and tons of surgery that doesn't need to be done, getting done."

Hillson added any procedures that "reasonably" improve a patient's vision are worthwhile, noting that poor vision can lead to other health problems, like depression, or hip fractures.

"It's really hurting patients who are waiting for the surgery," he said. "It's not like there's less work to do, it's just not getting done. So I'm not sure that this is the best way to save money."

Wait times still better than targets

More than 1,800 procedures were performed in Thunder Bay over the past year. The average wait time for cataract surgery in Thunder Bay is currently 66 days, and comes in well ahead of the Ontario target of 182 days.

The hospital said Monday that cataract surgery can resume when its new fiscal year begins April l. 

"Patients are not happy with this," said acting vice-president Lori Marshall.

"And we understand that wait times are one thing but the impact on the individual and their family is another."

Even with the delay, Marshall said wait times for this particular surgery would still be well below the Ontario target.