Outreach Eyecare in Sri Lanka by Tom Morton (OD4, 2017)
In early January 2017, an optometry team from Melbourne travelled to Sri Lanka with Global Hand Charity to run several outreach eye care clinics across the country. The Essilor Vision Foundation, Rotary Club of Millpoint (in Australia) and the Rotary clubs of Colombo & Matara (in Sri Lanka) were invaluable partners of the project. Students and staff from the University of Melbourne have previously volunteered with Global Hand Charity for eye-care projects in Laos from 2013-2016.
The Sri Lanka 2017 eye care team included four final year University of Melbourne Doctor of Optometry students Anjalee Athukoralage, Victor Liu, Tom Morton & Noni Rupasinghe; DOVS lecturer Dr Kwang Cham; and Melbourne optometrists Helen Lee, Dr Abirami Sribalachandran (OD graduate of 2014) and David West. Regina Lau from the Global Hand Charity organised the trip and coordinated the operation of each clinic with assistance from volunteers Gordon West and James Lai. Present in spirit was DOVS senior lecturer Christine Nearchou, who previously attended previous projects in Laos and was heavily involved in organisation of the Sri Lanka project.
Primary eye-care services in Sri Lanka have only existed for a few years, and infrastructure is developing slowly. Although smaller than Tasmania by landmass,
the population of Sri Lanka is 21 million and many people are simply unable to
access or afford basic eye care. Most opticians & optometrists are based in large cities - consequently, many poorer people living in rural areas have never had their eyes examined.