A sign on a door at the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (IRO) in Trujillo, Peru. It reads 'Consultorio de oftamologica: Dr. Gabriel Lazcano, Dra. Susan Castro, Dr. Carlos Barb'

Peru training project to boost glaucoma skills kicks off

This week sees the start of an exciting five-day on-site hospital training in Trujillo, Peru, to improve the skills of local eye care professionals in treating glaucoma. Despite it being the second-leading cause of blindness in Peru, there is a lack of knowledge and skills for treating the disease.

The training project is held at our longtime partner hospital, the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology (IRO). IRO is the leading specialized eye hospital in the rural La Libertad region of northern Peru, the training will improve the surgical techniques of ophthalmologists – who are often the only specialists available for glaucoma care in the region – and train nurses to support these critical surgeries.

The training is made possible through generous funding from Dr. John E. Downing, a longtime Orbis Volunteer Faculty member and donor, and equipment provided by Alcon.

Ophthalmologist and Orbis Volunteer Faculty member, Dr. John Downing, screens a patient in Linyi, China.

Longtime Orbis Volunteer Faculty, Dr. John E Downing, screens a patient during a past project in Linyi, China.

Dedicated, on-site trainings can make a huge difference in a rural area,” says Dr. Doris Macharia, Senior Vice President of Global Programs at Orbis International. “When a hospital is the only option for specialized care, it's critical that its physicians and staff are equipped to handle both common and complex cases. We are grateful for the support that makes this training possible. It will build sight-saving skills that will ultimately transform lives.”

Two ophthalmologists will receive hands-on training from Orbis Volunteer Faculty member Dr. Gabriel Lazcano Gomez, a glaucoma expert from Mexico. Four ophthalmic nurses will receive practical training from Orbis staff nurses.

During the training, 19 patients with complex glaucoma will undergo surgery. Given that glaucoma primarily affects older individuals, any patients found to have age-related cataracts will receive treatment for this common cause of vision loss as well.

Local eye teams will also learn best practices for educating patients on eye health and preventive care, which is especially important in glaucoma cases because blindness from the condition can be avoided, but only with access to early treatment.

On-site hospital training allows eye care professionals to learn new skills in their own work environment and with their own equipment, promoting confidence and sustainable improvements in patient care.

In Peru, many eye care specialists are concentrated in urban areas, leaving rural communities underserved. The training at IRO aims to address this by enhancing the care provided, especially for challenging cases. It will also help IRO serve as a technical adviser for other ophthalmology service providers and community health facilities in northern Peru.

For more than four decades, Orbis has improved eye care access in Peru through training, fellowships, Flying Eye Hospital visits, and equipment donations. While Orbis is active in improving eye care in four regions, another 22 still need basic equipment and training.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Volunteer Faculty Dr. Gabriel Lazcano Gomez for giving up his free time to help train peers in Peru; Alcon for being a generous eye care partner; Dr. John E. Downing for funding this project and dedicating his life to improving eye care around the world; and of course, you our wonderful supporters, without whom none of this would be possible.

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