J. Dan Twelker on behalf of VOSH/International
To reduce visual impairment due to corneal disease and refractive errors in Ghana
The 2015 Ghana Blindness and Visual Impairment Study identified refractive errors (44%) and cataracts (42%) as principal causes of severe visual impairment. Education of the 97 ophthalmologists and 370 optometrists present in Ghana in 2017 is therefore vital. This project aims to increase the knowledge of local eye care personnel including regarding rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs). RGPs are more hygienic than soft lenses; can correct myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, corneal scars, and keratoconus; are less likely to be abused; stabilize patients' corrections; are cheaper in the long-term; can be polished at least annually for best vision and comfort; and can be modestly modified to make small corrections in visual changes (not requiring an additional purchase). This project will reach local optometrists and ophthalmologists directly, and optometry students indirectly. RGPs are expected to help 1,000 patients in the first year.
With training and equipment provided, the local school of optometry will be able to offer RGP services to the local population on regular basis. The final evaluation will serve to identify any improvements needed to the service and training so that it can strengthen its own capacity to train other African countries with RGPs.