Five eye health professionals from across the globe are using Cybersight

Meet Five Cybersight Users Making the World a Brighter Place

Since launching in 2003, our award-winning telemedicine and e-learning platform, Cybersight, has helped eye care professionals grow the skills and know-how to combat avoidable blindness. With the high demand for virtual learning in recent years, our platform’s reach has soared, hitting 60,000 registered eye care professionals.

From Namibia to The United Arab Emirates, we speak to five professionals tackling avoidable blindness and explore their individual journeys on Cybersight. Discover how our unique learning tool is positively impacting the quality of eye health and helping transform the way their countries see.

"Advice Is at Your Doorstep"

This is Chantel Neethling, a highly motivated optometrist based in Namibia. Not long ago, she switched from working in an optometry practice in the capital, Windhoek, to working alongside an ophthalmologist at a private eye institute 350 kilometers away.

A positive experience with our telemedicine tool has helped her navigate a career shift from optometry to working as part of a team within the ophthalmology practice. So far, she has achieved three webinar certificates, completed 15 consultations with mentor doctors to discuss complex patient cases, and two AI (artificial intelligence) consults, in which Cybersight’s AI tool can help detect signs of common diseases by scanning images of the back of the eye.

In her line of work, she is entirely focused on eye pathology (a sub-specialty of pathology and ophthalmology that focuses on diseases of the eye and its neighboring tissues) and sees approximately 3,000 patients a year.

She stumbled across Cybersight during an internet search in the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 and hasn’t looked back since! During a career hiatus, she made the most of her free time by brushing up on her ophthalmic knowledge with the invaluable support of Cybersight’s expert mentors.

Chantel credits Cybersight for helping her and her team manage referrals more effectively, especially as eye health services in Namibia are few and far between. With only a few ophthalmologists and very few sub-specialists concentrated in the capital, the efficiency of the eye healthcare system can be enhanced if unnecessary referrals can be avoided. She says: “Sometimes, I just need a guideline, or an opinion about 'Can I monitor this patient myself, or should I refer him? That is where Cybersight works very well for me.”

Namibia has no formal optometry or ophthalmology training school either. The nearest professional training can be found in South Africa, thousands of kilometres away, so our telemedicine platform enables her to confidently power her own professional development and take away expert guidance for better patient care.

Chantel is delighted to have a one-stop shop for advice on a wide range of pathologies as and when she needs it. She describes Cybersight and its content as “at your doorstep.” She also shares Cybersight Consult results with the ophthalmologist she works with, and together, they use the consult discussion as a second opinion, which becomes part of the patient file.

“Cybersight Fills the Gap.”

You will find Dr. Osama Abdella practicing ophthalmology in a small hospital in Khor Fakkan, 100 kilometers from Dubai. We learned our telemedicine platform has supported Dr. Abdella at various stages throughout his career.

It was in Sudan where Dr. Abdella first discovered Cybersight and began using it to “fill the gap” when he couldn’t find the right information to suit his needs. He found the tool to be particularly useful given Sudan—a country that has experienced a great deal of conflict—has its own challenges with its health system and limited resources; a far-cry from the well-resourced United Arab Emirates where he is based now.

Back in Sudan, the internet connection was unreliable, which sometimes made it difficult for Dr. Abdella to access video content. Nevertheless, Cybersight was a go-to place for eye health insight and training provided by international medical experts, especially since formal training support in the country was very limited.

What he learned through Cybersight prepared him accordingly for outreach programs in Sudan and other African countries. Dr. Abdella shared:I visited all around Sudan, outside Sudan; we visited and did a lot of eye surgery there. I almost visited all parts of Sudan during this residency and after residency, and also had a chance to visit other countries in Africa for the same purpose. So, it's very helpful to have some material ready in Cybersight to fill the gap where it's not adequately available in Sudan.

Dr. Abdella values the high level of expertise that Cybersight offers and appreciates how well the website is organized, with materials spanning all ophthalmology and sub-specialization areas, which require intensive training and support.

With ophthalmology being a “vast and big speciality” at the general hospital in The United Arab Emirates where Dr. Abdella works, there are only two optometrists and two ophthalmologists, which means that there is no direct access to sub-specializations in ophthalmology at the hospital. This is where Cybersight’s Consult Service really provides value for him.

He said: “There are a lot of subspecialties in ophthalmology, so I need the consultation from other seniors. I'm sending some cases for consultation for Cybersight experts. They are helping really, and it’s very quick; within 24 hours answers will be ready.” Dr. Abdella adds that this resource is not only beneficial to him as a doctor, but also for his 5,000 patients.

“Cybersight Is a Teacher of Teachers."

Next up, meet Dr. Hannah Prasanth, a general ophthalmologist based in Puducherry, India. As well as seeing 6,000 patients a year in her practice, she is also a professor at the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, a highly regarded post-graduate medical institute.

She has been using Cybersight since 2011 and commends the platform for accelerating learning of surgical skills, teaching style as well as confidence, which in turn, have all benefited her patients and the graduates and residents she teaches.

Cybersight was a valuable resource for her, particularly when she wanted to explore more about medical retina. With two small children in tow by the end of her post-graduate studies, pursuing a retinal fellowship was never going to be an easy feat. She opted for online learning instead, which enabled her to get the training she wanted and still care for her family.

She said: “I was unable to pursue that; I couldn’t go for higher studies. I have a busy job here and a lot of commitments, and it’s a small town. So, I didn’t have that opportunity to pursue my subspeciality.”

It would be at least 20 hours a day. So, I had to make that sacrifice, I guess. If I had been a man, perhaps I may have been able to prioritize completing a fellowship.”

The flexibility that Cybersight offers was a huge plus for Dr. Prasanth, who could build skills and knowledge in her free time. She shared: “It fits into my schedule, which is a big advantage, especially being a working woman.”

Best of all, Cybersight has transformed her attitude as an educator, meaning she has become a better mentor to her own students. She added: “As a postgraduate, I was taught in a very negative way. They would say, ‘Don’t do it like this. Don’t do it like that' They would never say, ‘The correct way to do it is like this.’ That’s how the Cybersight teachers were teaching, so I picked up that skill, to teach students in a positive way.

With her newfound confidence, she says she is working more effectively, highlighting an example with a potentially blinding condition that affects pre-term babies, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). She shared:It’s such a specialized field, but after doing the Cybersight course, I’m definitely more confident after seeing all those pictures. At least I’m diagnosing better and I’m referring less patients now.

Dr. Prasanth describes Cybersight as “a hands-on instant solution for my practical clinical problems, as though I had multiple mentors on the go. I feel very free and uninhibited to seek opinions and advice, unlike in an open house setting where one is noticed.”

Hear From a Cybersight Mentor

Dr. Elaine Chuang is a veteran Cybersight mentor

“Impactful and Extra Convenient for Women.”

Long-time ophthalmologist Dr. Nkwogu is based in Owerri, a large town in South East Nigeria. She has been an ophthalmologist since 1989 and retired in 2011 from the Federal Medical Centre in her town, where she was the Head of Department of Ophthalmology, Head of Clinical Services, and Acting Medical Director.

She has held teaching positions for many decades and, in retirement, has been sparing her time to lecture medical students at a local university. Dr. Nkwogu was first introduced to Cybersight a few years ago by colleagues, but is certainly no stranger to Orbis as she participated in a Flying Eye Hospital project on Nigerian soil in the late ‘80s.

Not only does she refer her own students to the platform, but this senior professional is also leveraging the telemedicine tool to strengthen her own ophthalmic skills and know-how. At the time of writing, she has achieved 68 webinar certificates from Cybersight and has been impressed by the quality of those leading the webinars, as well as the wide range of topics covered.

She also believes Cybersight makes opportunities for professional development and learning more accessible to women as it is free, and they can access it at a time convenient to them.

Being a professional woman requires juggling various roles, and this can require trade-offs at times. It might also mean that women, who often have a higher burden of care, may not be able to attend professional development events or participate in opportunities for further learning because of financial constraints or family responsibilities.

Dr. Ngwoku from Nigeria is growing her skills through Cybersight

“I’m a Better Doctor."

Finally, hear about how Cybersight has helped support Dr. Jacoby, an ophthalmologist in Gqeberha, South Africa. With an interest in ROP and vitreoretinal surgery (a type of surgery for eye problems involving the retina, macula, and vitreous fluid), he welcomes around 5,000 patients into his private practice and examines 280 babies a year for ROP.

A regular Cybersight user since 2014, Dr. Jacoby is particularly fond of the Consult Service, the quality of advice and rapid responses from international medical experts. After engaging in 74 Consults with Cybersight mentors, he told us: “I sent away an interesting case, and the response was overwhelming. They were helpful and really went out of their way to assist me in my situation, and from then on, I have used this platform more and more.

“Whenever I describe a case to them, I always tell them what my limitations are, whether it be imaging, genetic testing or other special investigations … and I always find their responses very practical.

Because of Cybersight, Dr. Jacoby’s interest for pursuing further studies in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus was piqued, and he took on a fellowship in the Netherlands.

Continued Professional Development initiatives are essential to stay well-versed in the latest knowledge in an ever-changing academic landscape, and the platform provides many opportunities to supplement ongoing training.

While Dr. Jacoby was fortunate to get a fellowship abroad to help him specialize, many local eye doctors are not able to go abroad for training, which is why he says Cybersight is an excellent way to get exposure to teaching and learning in sub-speciality fields. Dr. Jacoby also mentioned that Cybersight is useful for improving surgical skills and confidence to deal with uncommon or difficult cases.

40 Years of Innovating to Fight Blindness

This year, we are proud to celebrDrate 40 years of using innovations like Cybersight to fight avoidable blindness.

Thanks to the platform helping to strengthen the skills of eye care teams around the world, we have been able to change the way the world sees and transform lives in the process.

A huge thank you to all five professionals for sharing their Cybersight journeys and for taking time out of their hectic schedules to improve their eye health knowledge.

Not only have they excelled individually, but the impact of their Cybersight use extends even further, with patients receiving better care, higher standards of teaching for residents and graduates, and increased quality of eye health services overall!

However, there are still millions more people waiting to see, with hopes for a brighter future. Through skills-building, we can reach even more people with quality eye care.

With your continued support, you will help maximize our impact.

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