Optometry in Ethiopia

It is amazing the difference 15 years can make. In 2001 I was privileged to travel to Ethiopia as part of the first ever refractive eye care team to visit the country. Despite a population of 72 million, there was no established Optometry profession and therefore no one had access to spectacles. Since then the charity Vision Aid Overseas has worked with its optical partners to help establish a university grade qualification in Optometry.

The queues of people requiring help are still long but now they are tested by Ethiopian optometrists and trainee students.

Kalkidan Getahun enjoyed science subjects at school, especially physics and optics. When it came to selecting a career in grade 12 she looked at the list of possible science professions and one of the options was optometry. Kalkidan had never heard of it and so like any internet savy student she Googled it! She liked what she read, especially the fact that it involved optics and biology. So she chose the course and began her training in the optometry department, Gondar university, in northern Ethiopia. Kalkidan is now in her fourth year of training and is very happy with her chosen profession.

An important part of the training involves gaining valuable experience at the patient clinics in Gondar Hospital. Here Kalkidan is beginning an assessment of her patient, Muluken Hussen, a 13 year old boy, who has recently noticed a deterioration in his right eye vision.

Having checked his overall vision Kalkidan performed a series of tests, under supervision, to establish the reason for Muluken's drop in vision.

Muluken was very fortunate. Not only did his vision improve dramatically with a spectacle correction but he was also in one of the few places in Ethiopia to have its own Vision Centre. Vision Aid Overseas has helped establish a number of optical labs where a new pair of spectacles can be dispensed at an affordable price.

Mekdes Amsaw, Optical technician at Gondar University Vision Centre, was able to produce the exact prescription for Muluken, in a frame that he had chosen.

Wubit Getnet, dispenses the new pair

Muluken Hussen can now see clearly again and is very grateful to all those who have helped establish an Optometry profession in his home country, Ethiopia.

"Thank you for helping me to see clearly again"

To find out more about the life changing work of the charity Vision Aid Overseas please click on the link below.

Created By
Graham Coates
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All photographs copyrighted Graham Coates

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