When St. Lucia Eye Centre and later Family Eye Care were established in the 1990s, their owner set his sights on creating a brand that would guarantee top quality eye care to patients. Since then this Family of Companies has continued to deliver on that promise, making them the longest-serving and leading eye care service on the island. In the process they have helped thousands of St. Lucians see life much clearer.
The founder, owner and CEO of the companies is home-grown Ophthalmologist, Dr. Emsco Remy. Dr. Remy did not start his career in eyes – when he first returned to Saint Lucia in 1977 after completing his medical degree at UWI and internship in The Bahamas, he worked as a general practitioner with the Government of Saint Lucia as District Medical Officer for the Eastern Division (Dennery and environs). In 1978, he was transferred to the Southern Division (serving Micoud to Saltibus).
It was shortly afterward that he turned his sights to eye care through his encounter with the International Eye Foundation. When that Foundation came to Saint Lucia to establish a formal eye care system for the island the then-St. Lucian Government enticed Dr. Remy to abandon his thriving general practice and become part of this new thrust in ophthalmology.
“It was an eye-opener working with the team of final-year residents and consultants from Harvard who brought the latest technology to the island, solving a myriad of eye problems,” he said. “I spent three years with them before going to Barbados for a year where I got a view of a more British-oriented eye care system. I worked with three outstanding ophthalmologists and we saw a lot of glaucoma patients.”
Dr. Remy then did a short stint of training with the University of Texas, followed by a residency at the Hebrew University in Israel where he learned the latest techniques in eye care.
On his return to Saint Lucia in 1987, Dr. Remy was the only Ophthalmologist at Victoria Hospital, where his experiences, although under challenging circumstances, turned out to be some of the most rewarding in his medical career. With a shortage of adequate equipment at the hospital at the time, he was forced to improvise. He retired from that position in 2006, and since then has dedicated his services entirely to the private practice of Ophthalmology, having created St. Lucia Eye Centre in 1992 in Castries, and later, Family Eye Care in Rodney Bay and St. Lucia Eye Centre (South) in Vieux Fort.
At the time of starting his practice in Ophthalmology, Dr. Remy recalls that glaucoma and cataracts were the main problems. Today, the list includes diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, dry eyes and computer eye strain. With the growing demands placed on the eyes — including people’s fixation on cellphones and computer screens — Dr. Remy says taking care of what are proverbially referred to as the “windows to the world” assumes paramount importance.
“At all three of our locations, we examine, treat and educate patients, as much we can. Our emphasis is on total eye care. Our plan is to eliminate, to the best of our ability, as many eye care problems and their sequelae as we can,” Dr. Remy explained. “Our professional and dedicated team of eye care practitioners including two ophthalmologists and an optometrist, and a total of nine staff members (most of whom have been with us from the inception) are always ready to offer their professional service to keep our patients’ vision in top shape. We have always had a great relationship with our patients. We thank them for their loyalty and support.”
Through it all, Dr. Remy and his staff maintain a commitment to society. According to Dr. Remy, there are serious social problems in Saint Lucia which is why his family of companies St. Lucia Eye Centre and Family Eye Care inculcate in their practice a socially-conscious mission. They are proud of the voluntary work they do such as offering clear vision to people who cannot afford to pay for it.
Dr. Remy assures that many of the problems associated with the eyes can be prevented and treated if only people would realize that the gift of sight is not guaranteed forever. The connection between diabetes and the eyes is a major concern, especially with the high rates of diabetes in Saint Lucia. He laments that many people either refuse to acknowledge or are ignorant about that connection.
“People with diabetes don’t really take care of themselves as they should, so it affects the brain, central nervous system, eyes and kidneys,” he explains. “If you have diabetes for over ten years, there’s a strong possibility that it has affected your eyes. It can lead to bleeding, a decrease in vision and finally, blindness. So, it is a serious medical and social issue. Glaucoma – a major cause of blindness among blacks – is a stealthy, dangerous disease. The danger of this scourge is that it has no initial symptoms and it is irreversible. It can only be picked up by a thorough eye exam and the most that can be done is to slow down its progress.”
Dr. Remy says that proper eye care helps alleviate all kinds of eye problems. People reaching the age 40 for example, usually start having presbyopia, not a disease, but a difficulty in seeing close objects especially noticeable when reading. Younger people who spend a lot of time on digital devices are also showing more signs of digital eye strain.
“Sight is a blessing – we should cherish it. We should make it a policy to have a comprehensive eye exam regularly. If you have been examined and diagnosed with an eye disease, understand that you must check it regularly,” Dr. Remy cautions.