Anil is an experienced optometrist with a passion for delivering services to disadvantaged members of the community in Sri Lanka. He is very motivated and prepared to extend his training after a dramatic encounter at a hospital he was visiting.
“I had gone to the general hospital to visit a friend’s father who had been admitted,” he said. “Next to his bed, there was a patient who had diabetes and was blind. I talked to him and asked him how he went blind. He told me it was due to his diabetes, he didn’t manage it properly so he went blind. I was surprised to learn that, for diabetics; an increase in sugar level would lead to blindness.”
Anil also recently assisted a man who needed spectacles but was not able to afford them.
“He was working in a garment factory as a security guard. He has two children, one starting school. After his spectacles were broken he was not able to do his job properly. His boss knew that he was not doing his duty well, he was scolded and given a warning. He was afraid that he would lose his job. Without the money to buy a new pair of spectacles he risked losing his job and had little hope of finding a new one. After hearing his story I felt very sad.”
Anil examined his eyes and provided a free pair of spectacles for him. “He was so very happy. He thanked me a lot.”
Anil is excited at the changes currently taking place in the eye care profession in Sri Lanka.
“In the near future employees of all optical shops must have an education or professional certification before being granted a registration,” he said. “Currently, most optical shops employees don’t have professional qualifications. It is common for a father to have an optical shop and for his son or daughter to learn on the job and continue the business. This will change within the next year and patients will have eye care from a qualified eye care professional.”
Optometry Giving Sight is providing funding to support the Development of Optometry Program in Sri Lanka at the University of Colombo implemented by the Brien Holden Vision Institute. It is hoped that Anil and his colleagues may have opportunities to become teaching faculty or assist in training the students at the school once it opens.
Photos courtesy BHVI