A patient being screened at Georgetown Public Hospital in Guyana

World Sight Day 2020: ‘Saving Vision with Smart Nutrition’

November 2020

For World Sight Day 2020, our teams in Latin America and the Caribbean promoted awareness of better eye health in Guyana to help tackle one of the fastest growing causes of avoidable blindness — Diabetic Retinopathy.

For several years, the wonderful Georgetown Public Hospital led by consultant ophthalmologist, Dr. Shailendra Sugrim, has spearheaded these awareness raising events to celebrate the most important day in the eye health calendar.

Fighting the burden of diabetes and the associated vision problems is a huge focus of the work we do with our partners, and many of the World Sight Day activities were geared towards promoting good nutrition and early screenings - the best way to prevent Diabetic Retinopathy.

Events were of course modified in keeping with the national guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19. Read more about them below…

World Sight Day Events

Saving Vision Through Nutrition Virtual Session

The country’s national referral hospital for eye care services, Georgetown Public Hospital, hosted an insightful virtual Zoom session for 300 eye care professionals and general physicians. Speaker Nutritionist and Diabetes Educator, Djamilsa Lambert, of the Georgetown Public Hospital Nutrition Centre led ‘Saving Vision through Nutrition’ encouraging physicians and eye care professionals to share good nutrition practices as part of patient care.

Saving Vision through Nutrition Zoom session poster

Saving Vision through Nutrition Zoom session poster

Better Nutrition Promotional Material

We collaborated with our project partners Georgetown Public Hospital and Novartis to create posters about diabetes management with good nutrition as well as general information on Diabetic Retinopathy for health centres and public spaces.

Diabetes and better nutrition poster

An example of a diabetes and better nutrition poster

Unveiling of New Diabetic Eye Centre

Since our work in Guyana began, we’ve supported the establishment of diabetic eye centres together with our partners - including the latest one which opened at the Enmore Polyclinic in August 2020. This centre is now offering diabetic eye screenings and general eye testing to the local community.

Staff in PPE at the diabetic eye centre, Enmore Polyclinic, Guyana

Staff in PPE at the diabetic eye centre

World Sight Day in the Media

Ophthalmologists and optometrists from Georgetown Public Hospital led discussions on eye health and World Sight Day activities on local radio programs. The Ministry of Health also issued messages and information to the local media, in turn educating audiences about diabetes prevention.

Free Screenings

Local optometrists and private optical shops in Guyana joined in on marking the day by offering free eye testing and promotions.

The state of eye health in Guyana

In Guyana, around 14,000 people are visually impaired and almost 3,000 people are blind. Strengthening Diabetic Retinopathy eye care services is a major area of focus with diabetes affecting an estimated 15.1% of the country’s total population. In Guyana, there is a lack of eye care capacity with only 16 ophthalmologists (10 doing surgery) serving nearly 800,000 people.

Over the last four years, we’ve teamed up with our partner, Georgetown Public Hospital, along with the World Diabetes Foundation and Novartis to support the Guyana Diabetic Retinopathy Program, to ensure early detection of eye problems and implement quality diabetic eye care.

A big thank you to all our committed partners in Guyana for coordinating these fantastic World Sight Day events and continuing to prevent diabetes and diabetic retinopathy through public education and early detection services.

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