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Irish students help to train Mozambique’s first ever optometrists

The first ever eye specialists have recently graduated from university in Mozambique thanks to the assistance of students from DIT.

Mozambique Eyecare Project
Mozambique Eyecare Project

MOZAMBIQUE’S FIRST EVER optometrists have graduated with the help of Irish students from Dublin Institute of Technology.

The Mozambique Eyecare Project, the Dublin-based Irish-Aid funded initiative has announced the graduation of the first nine Mozambican eye healthcare optometrists from its degree programme in the University of Lúrio, Mozambique.

Training

Mozambique, despite having a population of 23 million, up to recently had no optometrists, something the project, which is based out of the Department of Optometry in Dublin Institute of Technology hoped to change.

The project aims to have 170 fully qualified Mozambican optometrists trained to deliver eye care and glasses to millions of visually impaired people in Mozambique by 2020.

One of the students that travelled to Mozambique, Emma Hyland, said she saw many different types of people with visual impairment. “Something so simple like reading glasses can make a huge difference to a person’s quality of life and in Mozambique we saw entire families and communities of people who were poverty stricken as a result of poor eye healthcare,” she said.

Eyesight

She said that many of the people that they treated had given up a lot of what they had been used to doing like reading, crafts or sewing due to their poor sight. “And these people were in their late 30s,” she added.

Hyland said that people in Ireland tend to take their good eyesight for granted “because services are so readily available to us in Ireland,” she said.

Professor James Loughman, Director of the Mozambique Eyecare Project said the students sharing their skills and expertise which resulted in the successful graduation of the students in Mozambique is testament to the hard work by all involved.

The project, which is €1.5 million Irish Aid funded, established he first degree course in optometry in the University of Lúrio in Mozambique.

Students

As part of the Project, nine optometry faculty members and 11 final year optometry students from Ireland assisted in the training of the first optometrists in Mozambique.

Professor Loughman said that more than ten per cent of the world’s population are without access to this simple means to restore their vision.

He said that over 80 per cent of visual impairment in the world can be corrected with the prescription of corrective lenses to treat refractive errors, such as long sightedness, shortsightedness and age related reading problems, but that countries, like that of Mozambique need qualified optometrists to provide the care.

“Mozambique has a population of 23 million but has 17 eye surgeons and no optometrists until now. Ireland, he said however, has 750 optometrists and 150 ophthalmologists for a population of four million,” he said, adding he hopes the project can address the problem of avoidable blindness and poverty in Mozambique and other developing countries.

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