New clinic fights glaucoma

Myanmar Glaucoma Fellowship graduate Dr May Ko Ko Thet, who completed training at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in early 2015, is paying it forward. Since returning to Myanmar, Dr Thet has been treating patients at the Yangon Eye Hospital. She has now set up a new glaucoma eye clinic at the hospital and is training her own Glaucoma Fellow, Dr Aye.

Dr Thet checks a patient’s eyes at Yangon Eye Hospital in Myanmar.

As the leading cause of irreversible blindness, without warning, without symptoms, glaucoma has the potential to affect millions of people around the world.

 Among Myanmar’s 60 million people, glaucoma robs thousands of men, women and children of their sight every year.

Sight For All has been on the ground in Myanmar since 2005, educating, training and raising community awareness, helping to establish and equip 36 regional eye clinics.

Sight For All has also trained Glaucoma Fellows in Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao and Vietnam to detect and treat this potentially blinding disease.

 One of those Fellows is Dr May Ko Ko Thet who completed a Glaucoma Fellowship at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in early 2015. Since returning to Myanmar, Dr Thet has been treating patients in the Glaucoma Clinic at the Yangon Eye Hospital and is now training her own Glaucoma Fellow, Dr Aye.

 “We established the new glaucoma clinic five months ago and open it twice a week,” Dr May said.

“Twenty to thirty patients visit every open day and we are carefully monitoring the progress of every patient. We know the patients that come to the clinic are just the tip of the iceberg, we need to reach more glaucoma patients at a community level.

“As part of Glaucoma Week, we will conduct health education to raise glaucoma awareness in the community,” Dr Thet said.

After training Dr Aye, Dr Thet will begin a program to train other young ophthalmologists in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.

“I want to give proper training to every junior ophthalmologist so that they better understand glaucoma and can provide support in our clinic.”

Dr Aye is an enthusiastic glaucoma student.

“I am really interested in the treatment of glaucoma and joined Dr Thet’s Fellowship program seven months ago,” she said.

“It is enabling me to learn more about glaucoma and its treatment. I also want to go to Australia, especially to Adelaide, to pursue more learning opportunities,” she said.

Glaucoma patient U Ye Myint, who has been visiting Yangon Eye Hospital for the past five years for check-ups, praised the doctors’ work.

 “The doctors regularly look at my eyes and discuss the progress of my glaucoma,” she said. “I really understand my eye disease and with the help of the doctors, hope to maintain my vision for as long as possible.”

During International Glaucoma Week (March 10-16) we at Sight For All celebrate this dynamic medical duo’s clear vision of the future.

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide, according to the World Glaucoma Association (WGA).

An estimated 4.5 million people globally are blind due to glaucoma, says the WGA, with that number expected to rise to 11.2 million by 2020.

Up to 90 per cent of people in underdeveloped countries and 50 per cent in developed countries are not even aware they have the disease, says the WGA.

“I want to give proper training to every junior ophthalmologist so that they better understand glaucoma and can provide support in our clinic”– Dr May Ko Ko Thet

Dr Aye and Dr Thet discuss a diagnosis at Myanmar’s Yangon Eye Hospital.

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