“Sight For All established Sri Lanka’s first fully-equipped Paediatric Ophthalmology Unit at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Children’s Hospital
in Kandy in mid 2011“
MAKING AN IMPACT IN SRI LANKA
Kandy Eye Study 2007
The Kandy Eye Study was a large population-based eye survey conducted in the Kandy District of the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The study was conducted by the eye doctors and eye health workers from Kandy Centre for Sight with assistance from Sight for All. The survey was conducted over a 6-month period and included detailed ophthalmic examinations on 1375 individuals. The prevalence of blindness was 1.1% and of visual impairment was 5.9%. Cataract and age-related macular degeneration were the main causes of visual impairment, and diabetic eye disease was identified as an emerging problem. In addition, the study determined risk factors for angle-closure glaucoma and the importance of cataract in its causation, leading to the idea that increased cataract surgery rates would not only reduce the burden of cataract blindness but would also reduce blindness from angle-closure glaucoma.
Childhood Blindness Study 2008
In October 2008, a team from Sight For All taught a Sri Lankan team from the Kandy Eye Centre how to undertake a study of visual impairment and blindness in children in Sri Lanka. Over the ensuing year the team from Kandy surveyed over 200 children from 13 schools for the blind in the country. Hereditary conditions such as retinal dystrophy and anterior segment dysgenesis were the commonest causes. Over one third of children had avoidable causes of blindness with retinopathy of prematurity being the commonest of these. The data supported the need to develop specialised paediatric ophthalmic services, particularly in the face of advancing neonatal life support in Sri Lanka.
In view of the findings of the Sri Lankan schools for the blind study, Sight For All has trained a paediatric ophthalmologist from Sri Lanka. Dr Tavisha Udupihille completed his 12 months hands-on fellowship at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide in early 2014. He returned home in early 2014, as the second paediatric ophthalmologist in Sri Lanka, and is currently working at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Children’s Hospital in Kandy.
Five Sri Lankan ophthalmologists have undertaken 12-month hands-on fellowships in retinal surgery at South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology – Dr Tissa Seneratne (1998), Dr Daya Keembiyage (2006), Dr Mangala Gamage (2008), Dr Susith Kulasekaera (2010) and Dr Hemamali Seneviratne (2013). Dr Gamage is the first official retinal surgeon in Sri Lanka.
Dr Wathsala Priyadarshinie has recently commenced a medical retina fellowship at South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology.
Kandy Paediatric Eye Unit
Sight For All established Sri Lanka’s first fully-equipped Paediatric Ophthalmology Unit at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Children’s Hospital in Kandy in mid 2011. Sight For All trained paediatric ophthalmologist Dr Tavisha Udupihille as head of this unit.
In 2015 Sight For All purchased specialist diagnostic equipment to assist Dr Tavisha in the diagnosis and treatment of children with ophthalmic conditions in Sri Lanka. This equipment was purchased with the support of the Australian Government through the Direct Aid Program.
Sight For All’s event A Dinner For Sight held in Sydney in September 2018 raised funds to equip a new paediatric eye unit in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka.
A Dinner For Sight also launched our equipment giving program, called Gifts For Sight.