With the introduction of the first optometry degree program scheduled for later this year, and the ongoing development of vision centres in remote districts and provinces, eye care in Sri Lanka is gradually becoming recognised by the government as a crucial part of the country’s health care sector and an important profession in the Sri Lankan job market.
Niroshan is an outstanding example of the impact that funding from Optometry Giving Sight has had in the country. Since his training as a Vision Technician in 2008, he has been working at the Warakapola Vision Centre and has now performed eye examinations on more than 12,000 patients.
“Most of the people in these communities lack eye health awareness or basic vision care education so when they hear about our clinic they come to us with life-long, untreated eye conditions including refractive error,” he said.
According to Niroshan, many people in Sri Lanka unknowingly have vision impairment through refractive errors. It is very common for young children to have eye conditions which are avoidable with earlier treatment, and they can lead to a stifled or incomplete education and divergent career paths. A sad fact is that many parents do not even know their children are having problems with their sight.
“I recently treated a young girl who was suffering from eye strain and frontal lobe headaches. I examined her and found she was suffering from severe myopia and keratoconus. I prescribed her a pair of spectacles. Several months later I heard that she had passed her exams and managed to get into the university of her choice. She had previously given up on her goal of tertiary education because of her difficulties in seeing and her headaches. I will never forget that. This is why this program is so important for our country and the future of eye care here,” he said.
Niroshan is an outstanding advocate for the emerging profession of optometry, and a regular participant in outreach programs that are funded by Ministry of Health and coordinated by Vision 2020 program. He is enthusiastically building on his initial training, and has recently completed a two and half year Advanced Diploma course in Optometry at the Sri Lanka Foundation. He will no doubt be an early applicant to the new degree program – watch this space!!
Niroshan at the Warakapola Vision Centre
The Development of Optometry Training Program in Sri Lanka is being developed by Brien Holden Vision Institute in partnership with the Institute for Human Resource Advancement at the University of Colombo. The Vision Centres in the Kegalle District of Sri Lanka are implemented by Brien Holden Vision Institute and the Ministry of Health. Part funding for both projects is provided by Optometry Giving Sight.