Three Nigerian optometrists recently concluded a two-week visit to Lighthouse International to observe clinical procedures relating to the latest treatments in low vision and vision rehabilitation.
Leading the delegation was Dr. Ikechukwu Nwakuche, Chief Executive Officer of the Joy Eye Care Low Vision Resource Centre in Nigeria. Joining him were colleagues Professor Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne and Associate Professor Bridget Ebele Uzodike. In September 2009, Dr. Nwakuche, who began studying advanced courses at Lighthouse International in 2003 and remained in close contact since then, helped open the Joy Eye Care Low Vision Resource Centre, modeling it after the holistic care and treatment offered at the Lighthouse. “Lighthouse International’s model of comprehensive care from birth to old age is the inspiration for [our] centre,” says Dr. Nwakuche. The Centre offers many of the same programs as Lighthouse, from early intervention and pre-school to youth programs, vision rehabilitation, professional education and advocacy.
During their visit to the Lighthouse, the Nigerian team observed a variety of programs such as vision rehabilitation, low vision, education, advocacy and vision research. Since low vision and rehabilitation services are in high demand in Nigeria, the Joy Eye Care Low Vision Resource Centre is urging their government and various institutions to increase the services available to the low vision community. Thus far, the Joy Eye Care Low Vision Resource Centre, in conjunction with the Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) and the Low Vision and Rehabilitation Society of Nigeria, has trained more than 150 optometrists in low vision specialty.
With the knowledge acquired during their visit, Dr. Nwakuche and his team are looking to duplicate the success of the Lighthouse in their facility in Nigeria. “We are very impressed by the multidisciplinary teamwork [at Lighthouse International], between optometrists, ophthalmologists, occupational therapists, vision rehabilitating speclasists and others,” says Dr. Nwakuche. “You have the total package here and we need to look at how we can implement this approach at home. We have many issues and problems with vision in Nigeria, but with this visit, we have new ideas on how to tackle them.”