From Eye Care to Cycle Wear: One Optometrist's Journey in the Ride for MS

June 4, 2023
From Eye Care to Cycle Wear: One Optometrist's Journey in the Ride for MS

This summer I am cycling Canadian roads to change the future of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I love cycling, so what better way to contribute to improving the lives of so many affected by MS. I have been road cycling and mountain biking since the early 1990s. I love the exhilaration of biking on mountain trails in Bragg Creek, Canmore, and Fish Creek Park to name a few. Although a bit tamer, but equally challenging, I ventured into road cycling. I originally challenged myself with shorter triathlons and trained with longer rides around our city. Admittedly a secret pleasure was the goal of an ice cream break in Cochrane or Bragg Creek for my long solo rides. Even today, my favourite social rides include a coffee break during the rides in and around High River, Diamond Valley (previous Turner Valley) and Okotoks as we choose interesting routes with challenging hills and overall elevation gain! I enjoy riding with my cycling mates at the Highwood Cycling Club out of Okotoks. We have group ride options almost every day of the week and longer weekend rides either with the whole club or with breakaway groups.

Bike To End MS

Cycling has become quite a passion for me, and I am glad to keep making new goals. My first longer ride this season included my recent 77 km distance/750 m elevation ride from Diamond Valley via Highway 546. This route passes through Bluerock and Sheep River Provincial Parks to the top of Bluerock campground with amazing views of the Sheep River. Along with enjoying beautiful views and sighting animals along the way, an added plus in riding that road is you can see all the amazing hiking areas to plan for the season ahead as well!  
I’m looking forward to many more excellent rides this season. I have already completed a May long weekend and early June Highwood Pass ride. This up and back route from the Highwood Pass South gates to the Highwood Pass elevation of 2200m and return is a beautiful and challenging 75 km ride. I’ve signed up for the Kootenay Rockies Gran Fondo (152 km) ride through Cranbrook and  Kimberly, BC in September. And I’m certainly looking forward to the 2023 Airdrie to Olds MS Bike event. This ride is a two-day return trip from Airdrie to Olds on June 24-25, 2023. The Bike To End MS route covers 130 km on day one and 80 km on day two!

The MS organization is amazing. I started doing the fundraising ride with a close friend that had a relative diagnosed with MS. We continue to connect for the MS ride. The weekend is full of energy and camaraderie. I have joined a fundraising group called Kiss MS Goodbye. I joined the group when one of my patients told me about his involvement in the MS Ride (one of the biggest fundraisers with the Kiss MS Goodbye group!). Cycling with a group of individuals that are riding for their family members, friends, or even themselves is particularly motivating. And certainly, the wind-up BBQ and camping at Olds College dorms is a great time!


The Connection Between Vision, Eye Health, And Auto-Immune Diseases

My interest in riding for MS is closely connected to my career in eye care. As optometrists, we assess vision and eye health every day. A big part of all examinations is the connection to general health and well-being. Often occurring in early teens or young adulthood, sudden vision loss, often in one eye only, can occur and needs to be addressed on an emergency basis. Numerous advanced diagnostic imaging tests are used to assess the degree of sight loss, the measurement of the affected visual field loss, and the appearance of the optic nerve with numerous advanced diagnostic imaging tests. We can get the individual to the right specialist quickly and help them through the healing and treatment period. MS symptoms like this often strike suddenly and can have a huge impact on the person mentally as they await information about their vision and health outcomes.

In those with MS, an auto-immune disease that attacks the nerve lining in various parts of the body, the immune system cells that normally protect us from viruses, bacteria, and unhealthy cells mistakenly attack myelin in the central nervous system (brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord). As an optometrist, I assist with temporary vision loss and monitor the status of the optic nerve, the visual field, and vision over time. This also includes assessing vision changes from other auto-immune conditions that can cause changes in the eyes. Often the neurologic changes can cause double vision. If you or someone you know experiences even subtle vision loss or having to close one eye to see clearly, please see your optometrist. We can assess the eye health, vision, and eye muscles to determine if there is a medical cause, and will collaborate with your family doctor in the assessment, further medical testing that may be required, and ongoing vision and eye health monitoring. This seems like a rare occurrence, but in my practice, I do see quite a number of cases of new-onset double vision. If this happens to you, don’t delay. Please consult us for a vision assessment for the best intervention.


Your Support Is Appreciated

I thank you in advance for your support in my fundraising cycling weekend in June! Over 90,000 Canadians live with MS and the need for education, resources, and support programs is as urgent and critical as ever.

While Canada has one of the highest rates of MS globally, we are also home to some of the world’s top MS researchers, whose work is at risk of being discontinued due to the economic crisis. My fundraising for MS Bike will help support their ground-breaking research into treatments and ultimately a cure.

With every kilometre I cycle and every dollar you give, we will move that much closer to a world free of MS.


Connect With Us Today!

Let's See Clearly, Together

Our Eye Care Professionals are thrilled to serve the Calgary and Three Hills, Alberta area for over 35 years! With our main floor access, vast medical eye care services, and enhanced supplier choice and selection for frames, prescription eyeglass lenses and contact lenses, we've got you covered. Book an appointment online, come see us in person, or shop for your eye care products. Reach out today!

TopShopDry Eye Book OnlineContact
TopShopDry Eye Book OnlineContact