New Brunswick woman challenging labeling of prosthetic eyes as ‘cosmetic’

WATCH ABOVE: A New Brunswick woman is lobbying the government to cover an expensive medical Procedure. Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports.

A New Brunswick woman is calling on the Department of Health to make changes to their policy that classifies prosthetic eyes as cosmetic.

Cheryl Gillespie went blind at a very young age, when rheumatoid arthritis spread to her eyes.

Pain made removing her eyes the best course of action, however without prosthetics in their place, her problem would only get worse.

“If you don’t have something in your eye socket, the inside of it is going to collapse, you are going to get infection,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie’s situation had been reviewed and approved years ago and she had prosthetics put in — but recently, when she required a replacement for her prosthetics, she was told the procedure wouldn’t be covered.

“I’ve been trying to get that covered by medicare for 10 years and I’ve been rejected all along,” she said.

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“This is not a case of the cosmetics of it,” said her husband Michael. “It’s a case of a health issue.”

New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau said currently, prosthetic eyes are covered for youths up to the age of 18 and that a review of their policy is coming.

“I committed to reviewing that policy, that review is not complete yet,” Boudreau said.

“Basically what I asked staff to look at is what is being done in other jurisdictions and come up with some recommendations of what we could consider doing in New Brunswick.”

Boudreau said no timeline for the completion of the review has been set however he expects the recommendations in the near future.