3rd June 2024
3 minute read
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SpaMedica nurse returns from sight-saving assignment in Ethiopia with eye charity Orbis

Press release and photos are credited to Orbis UK / Adam Mengistu.SpaMedica nurse Irma Casale pictured with young patientIrma Casale, a nurse at SpaMedica, has returned from a one-week training programme in Ethiopia, using her annual leave to share vital skills with eye care professionals from across the country.

In Ethiopia, it’s estimated that one million people are blind from avoidable causes. Barriers to eye care can include cost or distance to travel and untreated vision loss can lead to lost educations and livelihoods, trapping people in a cycle of poverty. Irma volunteered her time with international blindness prevention charity Orbis. For more than forty years, the organisation has been working to expand eye health services across the globe to make eye care available everywhere, for everyone.

Since 2019, Irma has taken part in three training programmes, both onboard Orbis’s Flying Eye Hospital, the world’s only fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board a plane, and in local hospitals in Ethiopia and Vietnam.

This was Irma’s second training trip to her home country of Ethiopia, a place she is passionate about returning to. Volunteering at Hawassa Tertiary Eye Care Unit, Irma was able to reconnect with nurses she had taught on a previous programme, deliver training in ophthalmic nursing and help to screen and treat children with strabismus (squint).

Strabismus is a common condition that causes the eyes to look in different directions when focusing. If not detected and treated early, it can have a detrimental and permanent effect on vision – potentially leading to blindness.

Irma said: “Young people with strabismus can be bullied and it’s harder for them to play with other children because of their squint. It’s rewarding to be able to restore the sight of children with this condition.

“It’s beneficial to teach different techniques and share expertise to trainees in low-and middle-income countries which do not have access to the same training as the UK. I’m still in touch with a nurse I helped to train in Vietnam in 2018. She has just told me that she’s graduated as an optometrist. As a woman, I like to inspire other women through sharing skills and knowledge.”

According to some estimates, cases of blindness around the world are due to triple by 2050. To find out more about how Orbis is working to change this through their long-term programmes, volunteers and their unique Flying Eye Hospital, visit their website: www.orbis.org.uk.

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