Although the problem of reducing avoidable blindness is significant, only a small percentage of the people needing basic treatment for vision problems or even surgery actually have access to it. This issue is not only true for Trinidad but even among our Caribbean neighbours, there are countries with limited access to complex eye surgeries and this must be outsourced. Therefore we have a responsibility to undertake outreach events throughout the year to reach those who have limited access to these basic services in the more remote areas of our country and even extend our services where we can regionally.
The number one cause of blindness is due to refractive error. This is further compounded by limited access to basic eyecare services. Trinidad Eye Hospital is committed to doing our part to prevent avoidable blindness due to refractive error. We offer free basic vision screening at Health Fairs and other special community outreach events across the country. These sessions are done with the aim of reducing this problem by conducting at least one vision screening event per month.
Our Optometrist, Mr. Ibraheem Mohammed, and his team, screen for common eye problems, focusing on the need for glasses and cataract removal as well as other underlying conditions eg. Diabetic Retinopathy and Glaucoma . Patient consultations are provided on site at companies, community health events and schools. Patients vision acuity is tested and advice on minor eye ailments is provided with treatment recommended on site. Free medication and/or eyeglasses are distributed when possible.
Some patients who are identified with cataracts are referred for surgery at subsidized costs or recommended for the free surgery based on their financial constraints. We hope to grow this programme with increased support from donors.
rural community outreach
Community Outreach at Trinidad Eye Hospital is focused on providing eyecare within rural communities where many may have limited or no access to and/or awareness of such services. The goal is to take steps to eliminate needless blindness since many may have never visited an eye doctor or any doctor in their entire lives.
We have taken the responsibility to do community outreach at least twice a year since we've noticed that not all persons in these more rural villages have the means to travel to the public hospitals located in the urban areas.
Community outreach is still developing as there is a need to involve more businesses in our local communities, more volunteers and more independent sponsors to increase the level of funding available for these outreach projects.
regional subsidized eyecare programmes
Antigua & Barbuda
In 2019, a surgical and clinical team commenced visits to Antigua to perform cataract surgeries at the local hospital for their population. This is part of a growing partnership with the Ministry of Health & The Environment, Antigua and Barbuda and is key to the collaborative approach required to reduce avoidable blindness in the Caribbean Region. Many families are often forced to outsource their eyecare and incur additional expenses to travel to Trinidad to get the surgery they need. Through this partnership, the doctors from Trinidad Eye Hopsital fly to Antigua to perform surgeries, thus saving families the additional expense of travelling to Trinidad.
The aim of this eyecare service offered is to address the growing eye problems by conducting free clinic consultations with local ophthalmologists and to surgically treat eye disease in Antigua and Barbuda in a more economical and accessible way.
Our aim is to set up a comprehensive retina eyecare surgical service in Antigua as there is no consultant retina specialist residing on the island. The hope is that many islands can eventually receive specialist eye care services by accessing the surgeries that they need from this location.
More than 40 surgeries have been done so far and during each visit, education sessions are held for ophthalmic professionals and other medical practitioners teaching them strategies to care for common eye problems.