Doctors develop first eye chart with characters used in Indigenous languages – The Globe and Mail

April 10, 2023

While working at a clinic in the village of Puvirnituq in Nunavik, ophthalmologist Christian El-Hadad and his colleague Nishaant Bhambra encountered many Inuit patients who were unilingual.

In this remote, fly-in village on the Arctic coast of Quebec, Inuktitut, not French or English, is the language most residents use. But the visual-acuity charts, also known as eye charts, that ophthalmologists rely on to test patients’ vision are typically printed in Latin script. To the visiting doctors, this was an issue in need of a remedy.

Their solution? A visual-acuity chart that uses the letters of the languages of patients.

Dr. El-Hadad, an assistant professor in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at McGill University, and Dr. Bhambra, who recently graduated from McGill’s medical school, developed the first known visual-acuity chart in Canadian Aboriginal syllabics. CAS is a system of writing used for multiple Indigenous languages, including Inuktitut, Cree and Ojibway.

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