On the road to eye care sustainability
Funded by Optometry Giving Sight, The East Timor Eye Care Program is one of the best-in-class examples of eye care development.
Starting from almost nothing, the program is now on the road to sustainability.
Hobart based optometrist Andrew Koch (pictured right, eye screening a patient) has volunteered his time in Timor-Leste for the past 14 years and has witnessed the improvements first hand.
When he first travelled to Timor-Leste, there were no eye care resources in the country.
Every day, the visiting volunteer optometrists would eye screen over 500 people. “We would work until we dropped, literally,” admitted Andrew.
The situation has now considerably improved, with the establishment of local eye clinics and locally trained Eye Care Nurses (ECN). “With support from Optometry Giving Sight, we have equipped and supported the establishment of eye clinics in each of East Timor’s 13 districts and trained local eye care staff,” said Andrew.
Most of the everyday refractions are now done by local staff while the visiting optometrists mainly mentor or assist with clinical cases.“It was particularly rewarding to see the level of competence and teamwork from the ECNs and Dili outreach team,” said Andrew.
“I will be able to work again
and provide for my family and play
an active role in my village.” - Adriano
Farmer Adriano Ribera (pictured left with eye patch) is one of the patients who benefitted from the growing experience of locally trained ECNs. He was unable to see well for years due to advanced cataracts in both eyes. Appropriate diagnostic and intervention made it possible for him to see again.
“I will be able to work again and provide for my family and play an active role in my village,” said Adriano proudly.
Photos courtesy: Andrew Koch