Refractionists training in Myanmar began in the 1960s but due to a lack of consistency, there were only 50 specialists in the field dealing with the eye health issues of 51 million people up until 2005. With the recent graduation of nine upskilled refractionists, Sight For All is helping change that.
“The training was very good, it taught me a lot. I had some difficulties with language but the teaching was awesome. I would like to thank all the teachers involved and if there is further training I would certainly like the opportunity to attend. I am now applying the knowledge and skills I gained in training in my daily clinical work”– Ms Swe Mar Phyoe
Improved primary eye care and refraction services in ophthalmology are paramount in Myanmar, says Yangon Eye Hospital Director, Prof Yee Yee Aung.
Sight For All’s Refractionists Upskilling Training Project has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) over the past two years. The project is dramatically helping improve the nation’s eye health services, which has an increasing prevalence of refractive error and eye diseases, most of which are either preventable or treatable.
“Refractionists training in Myanmar began in the 1960s but due to a lack of consistency, there were only 50 specialists in the field dealing with the eye health issues of 51 million people up until 2005,” Prof Aung said.
“In a bid to strengthen the sector, a regular training program started again in 2014 and to date, there are now 87 refractionists/optometrists consulting in Myanmar’s secondary and tertiary eye health centres.”
Coordinated by Sight For All with the support of the Australian Government’s the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), the two-year Refractionists Upskilling Project began in July 2017 to train 9 refractionists, with visiting Visionary optometrists conducting training through regular educational visits to Yangon Eye Hospital.
The optometrists visited the hospital one week in a month and through a comprehensive teaching curriculum, coached the trainee refractionists in ophthalmic diagnostic techniques and clinical skills.
“Our aim is that selected trainees gain competency in diagnostic and clinical skills in ophthalmology to ultimately be able to offer speciality services to the people of Myanmar, with these trainees themselves becoming trainers for the next generation of eye health specialists,” Prof Aung said.
Sight For All recently also provided upskilling orthoptist and binocular training for the group. “On behalf of the Myanmar Ophthalmology Society (MOS), we welcome this ongoing training for our refractionists,” she said.
“With the support of Sight For All, our ultimate goal is in sight, to provide better optometry and eye care services to the people of Myanmar.”
Aung Tin Hein measuring IOP with an Icare tonometer.
“The knowledge and skills I gained from the training helped me further my career. I am now participating in a community-based tele-ophthalmology pilot project in northern Mandalay because of the knowledge and skills I gained. I am now a Level Two optometrist at Mandalay Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital. I am very happy to now be using my new knowledge and skills in field work in the villages of northern Mandalay, thanks to the lecturers from Sight For All ”– Mr Aung Tin Hein
“I want to thank Sight For All and my seniors for our training. Also thanks to my teachers from foreign countries. It was really awesome to learn about diseases and the information and instruction is proving very helpful in my daily job. Despite us having some weakness in understanding the English language, our teachers patiently helped us understand the lectures. I now use the knowledge and skills I gained from training in my clinical work. I hope more training will be conducted by Sight For All at Yangon Eye Hospital”– Ms Yee Yee Win San