Vivian Elaine Hill

Avenue Calgary’s 2009 Top 40 Under 40.

Job Title: Ophthalmologist
Age: 39

Dr. Vivian Hill is what you’d call a sight for sore eyes … literally.

She is an ophthalmologist who focuses on providing eye care for kids to prevent childhood blindness. She’s also one of a handful of doctors who provides specialized care to Calgary’s smallest patients by diagnosing and treating eye disease in premature infants in neonatal intensive care.

“It’s really rewarding to treat a child who couldn’t see and give them back their vision,” Hill says about what keeps her going.

In particular, Hill lends her expertise to the One World Child Development Centre, a program organized through the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) that provides early intervention education to help low-income families. Several times a year, she performs vision screening and eye care through the program.

“These kids wouldn’t get this care otherwise,” says Hill. “Many childhood issues can turn to blindness and are preventable. So I hold these clinics to catch and manage this at-risk group and provide continuity of care.”

Even though she enjoys working with children, her patients are split 50/50 between children and adults.

“I love working with children, but I didn’t want to give up comprehensive ophthalmology and intraocular surgery,” explains Hill. “With both, I can bring cutting-edge technology to the pediatric world.”

Hill is also an examiner for ophthalmology for the Royal College of Physicans and Surgeons and the Medical Council of Canada.

In addition, she’s the co-chair for the undergraduate ophthalmology component at the University of Calgary, where she mentors and teaches students.

“As a student and young doctor, I had so much appreciation for the mentors who helped me on my way,” she says. “That’s why I want to give back. And, I want the new generation to be well trained. The only way to make that happen is to get in there and teach and help develop the curriculum.”

Hill’s desire to contribute also plays out through her position as a member of the Parish Council for Christ Church, helping the church set strategic direction and oversee programming in areas such as homelessness, elder abuse and the environment.

For three years (2000 to 2002), she also volunteered as a cataract surgeon in rural Jamaica on behalf of the Lions Club.

“I could never see myself not doing community work,” says Hill. “We live in a community and are defined by the interactions in that community. I give back because of all the blessings I’ve had.”

Above all, Hill promotes proper eye care as a vital service for all Calgarians. “I’m pushing for great eye care in the community,” she says. “I hope that, as a community, we continue to value eyesight and care. You can live without your vision, but you can’t live as well.”

Why she’s the top: Hill provides sight-saving care to thousands of Calgarians, including at-risk children and premature babies. She has also devoted herself to promoting eye care as an essential health service in Calgary and training the next generation of ophthalmologists.

The key to her success: “A lot of hard work and having a goal,” Hill says. “Never lose sight of that goal. Go step-by-step, but always move forward. I tell my kids, it’s like the turtle and the hare; always be the turtle.”

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