“Sight For All’s team of ophthalmologists have been conducting
sub-specialty workshops at YEH and Mandalay Eye and
ENT Hospital (MEENTH)
for nearly two decades”
MAKING AN IMPACT IN MYANMAR
Meiktila Eye Study 2005 & 2017
In late 2005, Sight For All conducted a population-based, cross-sectional ophthalmic survey of the inhabitants of rural villages in central Myanmar. The principal aims of this project were to estimate the prevalence and causes of visual impairment and the prevalence and risk factors of ocular disorders among persons 40 years of age or older in this region. It was a highly successful study, producing the first robust ophthalmic epidemiological data from Myanmar – it demonstrated that the inhabitants of rural Myanmar suffer from a high prevalence of presenting blindness, the highest ever reported. The Meiktila Eye Study has resulted in 16 publications to date, and has been used by the World Health Organization to update visual impairment prevalence estimates in South East Asia.
Following this study in 2005, in 2017 the Meiktila Eye Study II was undertaken. This study aimed to examine the incidence of progression to visual impairment and the progression rates of cataract and angle-closure glaucoma in this region, data which could reasonably be extrapolated to other regions in rural South East Asia, and which would provide valuable information about the rate of ophthalmic disease burden and the risk factors associated with progression.The study was funded by Oscar Wylee.
Childhood Blindness Study 2018
This study was conducted in early 2018 to assess the causes of visual impairment and blindness in children less than 16 years of age at 8 schools for the blind across Myanmar. The data will inform the Department of Public Health and the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports. The survey was a cross-sectional observational study recommended by the World Health Organisation. It has been undertaken by Sight For All in five countries in Asia, including Myanmar in 2007. The data from the 2007 study in Myanmar revealed that 43.6% of children had potentially avoidable causes of vision loss, with corneal abnormalities as the major anatomical site. The Myanmar Childhood Blindness Study 2018 was funded through the generous support of funds raised from Oscar Wylee on World Sight Day 2017.
Childhood Blindness Study 2007
In early 2007, Sight For All conducted a study of children in all seven schools for the blind in Myanmar. Measles was found to be the main cause of blindness. A high level of avoidable blindness was identified, with many children requiring cataract or glaucoma surgery. Many of the children were supplied with low vision aids to help with their education.
An important outcome of the study was that a young ophthalmologist from Yangon, Dr Than Htun Aung, was selected for a 12-month fellowship in paediatric ophthalmology at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, commencing in 2009. He returned to Yangon Eye Hospital in 2010 as the first fully-trained paediatric ophthalmologist in his country of nearly 60 million people.
Sight For All has trained Myanmar’s first retinal, oculoplastic and glaucoma specialists and the first paediatric via 12-month hands on specialists in Australia.
Following completion of their training and experience treating patients in-country, these specialists are now training their own Fellows.
One example of this is A/Prof Than Htun Aung, who completed 12 months of training in paediatric ophthalmology at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide in February 2010. In the first year after his return there was a ten-times increase in the number of paediatric eye surgeries performed at Yangon Eye Hospital. A/Prof Aung is now training his 5th Fellow, and he and his team are collectively treating over 20,000 patients annually.
In 2017, Sight For All conducted our first in-country Fellowship in the ophthalmic sub-specialty area of neuro-ophthalmology. Three Fellows from 3 different teaching hospitals acquired knowledge and skills from by Sight For All’s neuro-ophthalmology Visionaries who conducted teaching visits over a 12-month period.
Clinical Upskilling of Refractionists to Deliver Comprehensive Eye Care Project 2017-2019
This project, supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program involved upskilling nine refractionists from five teaching hospitals in Myanmar to diagnose and treat patients with ophthalmic diseases. The project ultimately built the capacity of the five teaching institutions and having a profound impact on the country’s eye health.
Eye Health Workers Upskilling and Equipment Upgrade of Secondary Eye Centres
Sight For All’s Eye Health Workers Upskilling and Equipment Upgrade of Secondary Eye Centres Project has entered its fourth year.
Supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) the project equipped 54 Secondary Eye Centres across Myanmar and benefitted over 10,000 people in the first 3 years. A further 11 Secondary Eye Centres will be equipped in years 4 and 5 of the project, totally all 65 Secondary Eye Centres across the country.
The project’s aim has remained the same since inception in July 2017, delivering equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of the complex eye diseases of glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, the local ophthalmologists are trained in the use of the equipment and educational workshops about glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are delivered to ophthalmologists and eye health professionals.
In response to COVID-19, Sight For All has modified the project’s delivery, with workshops being delivered virtually by Dr Ye Win, Myanmar Country Officer when required.
Awareness and Early Detection of Childhood Blindness Conditions Myanmar Project
Blinding childhood diseases include cataract, glaucoma, strabismus and retinoblastoma. To correctly identify conditions, primary healthcare providers require specific training that is currently unavailable in the primary healthcare setting in Myanmar. Furthermore, referral pathways and urgency of treatment is largely unknown. To address this need, Sight For All, in collaboration with Myanmar Ministry of Health and with support of the Australian Government through the Australan NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) has coordinated the Awareness and Early Detection of Childhood Blindness Conditions Myanmar Project.
This project will educate front line healthcare practitioners, training them to correctly identify conditions and make appropriate referrals to eye specialists. With early detection inextricably linked to saving sight, the ability to identify conditions is critical. Through education, appropriate referral systems and a public awareness campaign, the project will decrease the rate of preventable paediatric vision impairment and the number of deaths from undiagnosed eye disease.
Despite the inability for international travel resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Sight For All has continued in-country Fellowship Projects via online tutorials, lectures and webinars. We thank our devoted team of Visionaries for donating their time to deliver these tutorials on a monthly basis.
Sight For All has established Retinal Units at Yangon Eye Hospital and at Mandalay Eye & ENT Hospital.
Paediatric Eye Unit
Sight For All opened Myanmar’s first Paediatric Eye Unit at Yangon Eye Hospital in July 2010, with Dr Than Htun Aung as the Unit’s Director.
In October 2015, Sight For All Opened Myanmar’s second Paediatric Eye Unit at the Mandalay Ear Ear Nose and Throat Hospital. The establishment of this unit was made possible with support from the Australian Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Sight For All, through the support of the Geok Hua Wong Charitable Trust is currently equipping a third Paediatric Eye Unit at University of Medicine 2, Yangon.
In 2013 Sight For All donated a new Ellex SLT laser for the management of patients with chronic glaucoma at Yangon Eye Hospital.
In 2014 Sight For All donated new surgical instruments for the management of patients with diseases of the eyelids, orbit and lacrimal system at Yangon Eye Hospital. Thank you to the Australian Government’s “Direct Aid Program” for sponsoring this initiative.