New ophthalmology programme to target remote communities

Patient seeking eyecare service on a medical outreach

The Ministry of Health will be targeting patients in remote areas with the launch of the pilot ‘Community Ophthalmology Programme.’

This was disclosed by Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, during the daily Covid-19 update on Monday. He noted that the programme is one of several interventions to improve eye care services across the country.

“We are also starting this year, a community ophthalmology programme, meaning that we have been working with a group out of John Hopkin’s University. They have piloted a “snap on” lens, and this is a very simple technology to use but it will have a great impact.”

“You go into a community, you are able to test everyone’s eyes very quickly and based on the results of those tests you could give them spectacles, and that’s done in less than ten minutes,” Minister Anthony said.

The pilot project will be assessed and once effective, it will continue in other areas.

“We have ordered at least 3,500 spectacles and the programme is going to be started in very remote areas because in a lot of instances, these persons do not have the opportunity of getting such service,” Dr. Anthony said.

Meanwhile, government has also embarked on several other initiatives to improve eye care services in Guyana, including expanding access to services to check the retina of diabetic patients.

“With diabetic patients, it is a requirement as part of the management protocol to check the retina of the eye periodically and this has been a challenge, because there are very few places that would have offered those checks, so we are now expanding that service. We have bought a number of these types of equipment and we have located them strategically, not just at regional hospitals, but at other centres where people would visit very often,” Dr. Anthony said.

This is now being done at the Enmore Poly Clinic and will be established at the Diamond Diagnostic Centre.

The referral eye care services continue at the Georgetown Public Hospital, while work has also been done on restoring the infrastructure and restarting surgical procedures at the Port Mourant Ophthalmology Centre.

“Over the last two years or so, we have been investing in rehabilitating the theatres, putting in new microscopes and other forms of equipment that is necessary for eye surgery and we have a number of Cuban consultants who are working at the facility, so we have been able to restart surgical procedures at that hospital and we are hoping that with the increased investment and storing of some of the equipment and so forth that we will be able to offer a wider range of services at Port Mourant.”

The Ministry is also working to improve ophthalmology services at the regional level, to ensure that at the principal regional hospitals, there is some level of ophthalmology service, Dr. Anthony said.