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See The Way: UK Optometrist delivers Low Vision training in Rwanda

Posted on: Tuesday, December 6th, 2022

CBM’s Northern Ireland Committee volunteer and Optometrist, Jonathan Jackson recently visited Kabgayi Eye Unit in Rwanda, to train eye health professionals to deliver quality Low Vision services to rural communities, as part of CBM UK’s See the Way project.

A lack of eye health services available in Rwanda means that people often have to tavel great distances to get treatment, especially if they live in rural areas. A CBM study in 2017 identified that district hospitals in Rwanda were only able to treat 42% of patients with eye health conditions, mostly due to a shortage of trained staff and equipment. Training staff from these rural hospitals is a key way to increase access to eye care across Rwanda.

Responding to this strategic need, in September Professor Jonathan Jackson, Head of Optometry at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, delivered ten days of low vision training at Kabgayi Eye Unit in Rwanda. The training was provided for a group of Ophthalmic Clinical Officers and other eye health professionals from four regional hospitals across Rwanda. Through the use of low vision aids like glasses and magnifying devices, people with low vision can make the best use of their remaining sight. Professor Jackson’s low vision training included a wide range of practical workshops including usage of magnifiers, telescopes and specialist reading charts, discussing mobility, and discussing case reports. By providing this training for staff from four rural hospitals, access to good quality low vision treatment will now be far more accessible at a local community level.

Professor Jackson is a highly respected Consultant Optometrist with over 30 years’ experience. With a background in Optometry, low vision is one of his areas of special interest. Professor Jackson also gives his time to CBM’s Northern Ireland Committee, promoting and supporting the work of CBM across Northern Ireland.

Professor Jackson said:

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to come and work with the fantastic team at Kabgayi Eye Unit. It was wonderful to see how the multidisciplinary team works together to deliver a whole range of ophthalmic services to the population they serve. I was particularly pleased to see how enthusiastic those attending the training sessions were, and I think it would be fair to say that I made some lovely friendships during the 10 days I spent in Rwanda. I’d like to give thanks to CBM for supporting the work there.”

Dr Theophile Tuyisabe, Director of Kabgayi Eye Unit, said:

“It was a pleasure for Kabgayi to host Professor Jonathan Jackson – the entire team at Kabgayi profited from him, because he is like a book. Once you discuss with him, once you listen from him, it is like reading a book, especially on low vision therapy. It was really a pleasure for us to host him. Thank you to CBM which supported him to come and be with us.”

CBM UK’s See the Way project is working in partnership with Kabgayi Eye Unit across four regions in Rwanda, aiming to eliminate avoidable blindness, reduce visual impairment and make services more accessible to patients with different types of disabilities. The project is supported by the UK government, through their UK Aid Match scheme.

Jonathan Jackson and participants from the training standing in a group looking a low vision instrument on the table,. Professor Jonathan Jackson using an ophthalmoscope. Professor Jonathan Jackson speak to Jado from Kabgayi hospital. Participants of the training sitting at desks.

Photos: Participants from the low vision training held at Kabgayi Eye Unit delivered by Professor Jonathan Jackson.

Read more about our See the Way project in Rwanda.