Tatiana Ghidirimschi (main picture) is a doctor of ophthalmology and the director of the national low vision centre in Chisinau, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova - a small country in Eastern Europe. Moldova is Europe’s lowest income country with nearly 18% of the population living below the poverty line.
Although a large part of Tatiana’s work involves refraction, with complex low vision patients, she had never received formal refraction training as part of her ophthalmology training. This meant that she sometimes had difficulties examining patients with astigmatism and high refractive errors.
Hans Bjorn Bakketig, president of Help Moldova, suggested that Tatiana would benefit from attending a three-month blended learning refraction course for ophthalmologists, both to improve her own refraction skills, but also to mentor younger ophthalmology residents.
Thirteen ophthalmologists attended the first rotation of the course, which is implemented by the Brien Holden Vision Institute in collaboration with Help Moldova, Nicolae Testemitanu State University, the Moldova State University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Norwegian Foreign Affairs and Optometry Giving Sight Norway.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all these institutions for organising such an important course, with great teachers, practical theory and a helpful manual,” said Tatiana. “In my country we do not have an optometry course, so it’s very important for the ophthalmologists to learn refraction”.
Victoria a 3rd year resident in ophthalmology at the University of Nicolae Testemitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy also participated in the specialised refraction training. “There were many new, interesting and challenging topics in the course. I learnt about retinoscopy, which now makes it easier for me to work with patients,” said Victoria.
Included in this training was the opportunity to deliver refraction services in a women’s prison. This served the dual purpose of allowing trainees patient time, whilst also providing services to a marginalized group. Eye care services were provided to 280 prisoners.
“We are proud to support the development of this program,” said Clive Miller, CEO of Optometry Giving Sight. “Currently optometry is not a supported eye care profession in Moldova and consequently there is an absence of qualified optometrists to provide much needed refraction services. This program will help to redress that and greatly assist in improving access to eye care for the people of Moldova”.
Hans Bjorn Bakketig, president of Help Moldova and Victoria.