“My mother used to take my sisters and I every year to the optometrist. I always had 20/20 vision until grade six, when I was told I needed my first pair of glasses,” relates Dr. Melisa Siragusa. It wasn’t until after she got her specs that she understood there had ever been a problem in the first place. “I remember driving down the street wearing my glasses and seeing the trees so vividly. It was nice,” she recalls.
That experience changed her life. “It made a huge difference for me. I didn’t realize how badly my eyes had deteriorated over the year. Since then, this is what I wanted to do.” As she got older, Melisa’s fascination with optometry deepened. She started to explore the mechanics of ocular science.
The more she learned, the more she wanted to study of ocular diseases. “The eye is the only direct access to blood vessels that we can see in the body.” The blood vessels in the eyes are usually one of the first to be affected by certain diseases, such as cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension. Since it is one of the first organs affected, annual eye exams are a great, non-invasive early detection tool for many diseases in the body.
On numerous occasions, Dr. Siragusa has discovered various findings in patients’ eyes that have led her to coordinate with their family practitioners. Through routine eye exams, she has been able to detect holes/tears in the retina, choroidal melanoma (a form of eye cancer), certain forms of disease such as Crohn’s colitis, ankylosing spondylitis and many more. In many cases, the conditions were in their very early stages and therefore much easier to treat.
Beyond regular health checkups, certain professions have strict colour vision requirements, such as pilots and firefighters. That’s another great reason to have your children’s eyes tested early, as it may avoid disappointment down the road with your children’s chosen line of work.
Melisa’s childhood obsession with the eye translated to a lifelong commitment to learning. She has earned an Honours Bachelor of Science with a Concentration in Anatomy and Cell Biology, from Western University, a Doctorate of Optometry from the Illinois College of Optometry, and is certified by the Board of Examiners of Optometry in the use of Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agents. Dr. Siragusa is also accredited by the National Board of Examiners of Optometry and the Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease in the United States.
Each year she continues to dedicate a significant amount of time to professional learning and development. Dr. Siragusa’s approach to patient care is all-encompassing and holistic, stressing the importance of whole body health.
“I always counsel my patients on diet and eye health. Diet is so important: Something as simple as dry eye can stem from your diet if you are not drinking enough water or not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. Our diets can also influence diseases like macular degeneration.”
Dr. Siragusa is thrilled to have a practice located so close to home. She enjoys the less hectic pace of King Township and ensures that client appointments are spaced in a way that allows for sufficient time to fully understand the visual needs of her patients.
Here, she is able to build relationships with her patients. “You see the whole family. I have sponsored their children’s hockey and soccer teams. I have watched them go off to college or university and I enjoy seeing these patients when they stop in for their annual eye exams.” Melisa looks forward to continuing the growth of her practice with the community.