Heroes of Orbis: Dr. Rosalind Stevens M.D. MPH

Medical retina and Retinopathy of Prematurity specialist, Dr. Rosalind Stevens, has been volunteering with Orbis for more than 20 years and is one of our longest-serving Volunteer Faculty members.

In 2011, she told Dartmouth Medical Magazine that traveling for Orbis International "is my real hobby, because for me it's fun."

It's thanks to people like Dr. Stevens - people who love travelling the world, working hard and sharing their unique skills - that we can improve the quality of eye car available around the world.

Skills & Expertise

When she’s not traveling the world sharing her skills, Dr. Stevens is Professor of Surgery Emerita at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, New Hampshire, and in clinical practice as a Vitreo-retinal specialist in Ophthalmology.

She graduated from the Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine; University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago in 1978, then completing her training in Ophthalmology at Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, California, The Wilmer Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and Emory Eye Center, Atlanta, Georgia.

With 42 years of practice, Dr. Stevens is also a mentor examiner of the American Board of Ophthalmology and has received the American Academy of Ophthalmology achievement award.

Her specialties are:

Gallery: Dr. Stevens’ incredible work in action

Teacher & Trainer

Many of our global training projects have benefited from Dr. Steven’s skills & expertise - including the Rwanda International Institute of Ophthalmology in Kigali and in 2017, the Can Tho Eye Hospital and Can Tho Children’s Hospital in Vietnam working alongside local physicians to improve the neonatal care of premature infants.

Retinopathy of Prematurity project Vietnam

During her experience on the Retinopathy of Prematurity project, she told us: “One of the striking things I’ve noted this week in the training is that when I first came to Vietnam in 1997 the neo-natal units had three or four babies per incubator – and many of the babies were receiving 100% oxygen which turns out to be rather toxic to the retina. Since then there has been an aggressive effort to improve neonatal care in the intensive care unit.

“Today, when we toured the Can Tho General Hospital we could see each baby had their own ICU bed, and we saw additionally in the eye screening that the level of Retinopathy of Prematurity was not nearly as severe as what we had observed eight to ten to fifteen years ago.

"So, I can say that from a biologic and clinical point of view, the disease of Retinopathy of Prematurity – although still very serious – is much improved. We hope to work with our partners here in Can Tho during this week – as well as with other retina specialists across Vietnam – to prevent blindness from ROP over the near term.”

A baby is examined for Retinopathy of Prematurity in Binh Dinh, Vietnam

ROP screening of premature babies in Vietnam

Training the next generation of eye doctors in Rwanda

Reflecting on her fifth time in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and the 4th year of leading an Orbis-supported Medical Retina Skills Course at the RIIO school of Ophthalmology, she told us about what inspires her to come back and keep teaching.

She said: “I keep returning to teach this course with Dr. Ciku Mathenge as I believe in its purpose to provide essential medical education to mid-career African ophthalmic teaching faculty who have gaps in their training. Plus, we've started to see results! Last year in Malawi I saw residents using indirect ophthalmoscopes in their clinic one year after we trained their Chief in our Kigali program!”

Speaking about the program’s ultimate goal, she said: “Although we have asked the new residents to listen to some of our lectures, our main purpose is training non-Rwandan mid career ophthalmology faculty from other sites in Africa to establish a training center of excellence and develop the medical retina training faculty across all residency programs.

She added: “To date we have trained physicians from Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Nigeria and South Sudan."

So what does training involve? She said: "Training includes wet labs and simulation followed by patient direct treatment for each trainee."

While Dr. Stevens is no stranger to our Flying Eye Hospital training programs, she relishes the opportunity to train teams in a hospital settings.

“I spend much more contact time with the trainees as there is generally much less time spent in transport from home base to teaching venue. There is generally a less crowded environment which makes communication with the trainees easier. Also in the typical hospital setting one is working in the everyday mileu that the trainee works in so it's more realistic from their point of view.”

Dr. Stevens, thank you for your ongoing commitment to providing quality eye care training so we can build a long-lasting eye care legacy for communities in places that need it the most.

Our Volunteer Faculty and medical staff are the heartbeat of our organization - we would be nothing without their skill and dedication to vision.

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Help our volunteers fight blindness in communities around the world

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