A young boy wearing his new eye glasses during a Flying Eye Hospital project in Trujillo, Peru

Peru: Building a sustainable future for eye health

We've been working alongside local partners to fight blindness in Peru since 2002; taking a comprehensive and sustainable approach to improve the quality of health systems and services, build the skills of local eye teams & educate communities on eye health awareness.

Between June and December 2018 we commissioned an evaluation team to assess the performance and impact of our work. The four members - an epidemologist, a health information database specialist, a public health medical specialist and a qualitative information specialist visited sites in La Libertad, Lima, Callao and Trujillo.

Here's what they found.

Fighting Blindness in Peru

A Peruvian patient with retinopathy of prematurity

Infant Eye Care

With more than 8000 infants at risk of retinopathy of prematurity every year in Peru, our partnership with Instituto Damos Vision has seen a 50% decrease in the number of hospitals classified with poor Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) standards in Lima and Northern Peru. By providing technical assistance for NICUs we have helped improve the delivery of care for premature babies. The report confirms that these improvements have occurred by providing better infrastructure, treatment and training - particularly with improvements to the delivery of oxygen therapy.

A Peruvian patient in traditional dress with diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic Eye Care

We've trained hospital staff working across all levels of eye care in La Libertad district on detection and referral, screening and treatment, for diabetic retinopathy. We also donated retinal cameras to three network hospitals to conduct the DR screening effectively. The report found that from 2014–2017, 11,849 patients with diabetes were screened within the diabetic retinopathy referral network, representing a 138.1% increase in screening. From these, a total of 2,922 patients (24.7%) were found to have diabetic retinopathy and 923 (31.6%), with severe retinopathy, were treated.

An eye examination on a young patient in Peru

Quality Eye Care

The report found that by collaborating with a number of local health partners across Peru, there has been marked improvements in service delivery and availability of quality services for patients. For instance, at Instituto Regional de Oftalmologia this includes improved efficiency in delivery of cataract surgeries, reduced waiting lists and patient waiting times (from 6 hours to 1.5). Patient volume increased by 59% between 2012 and 2017. There's also been improved coordination between ophthalmologists and nurses resulting in an increase in surgeries by 166%, as well as a dramatic decrease in same day suspension of surgery.

Training Teams

Training local eye care teams remains one of our key priorities. The report points out that our strategy effectively focused on strengthening clinical and surgical skills for local eye care professionals practicing at the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology through 5 Flying Eye Hospital and 22 local hospital training programs from 2006 to 2018. As a result of this partnership, IRO has seen a steady increase in nearly every eye subspecialty, consultations and surgeries e.g. in oculoplastics, cornea, glaucoma and cataract.

A finger points to an image on a set of scan results

Strengthening Education

We've partnered with Dr. Karl Golnik (Chair of the Education Coordinating Committee. International Council of Ophthalmology) to strengthen the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology residency program. According to Dr. Golnik, this partnership is one of the more successful experiences of improving a residency program outside of the US and should serve as a model. With Orbis’s support, improvements in the residency program at IRO has resulted in it becoming the first teaching hospital in Latin America to receive Advanced Surgical ICO Ophthalmology Training Program Accreditation.

Orbis Cybersight technology accessible on small devices

Building skills online

We've fostered links between U.S. universities and our partners in Peru to provide continued training sessions via our telemedicine platform Cybersight. The report found this form of distance learning gives junior doctors the extra confidence they need in the early stages of their career, providing them with expertise they would not normally have access to. These additional skills and experience shared by mentors from our Volunteer Faculty, are then passed onto their peers creating a circle of training and skills sharing. A big thank you to our partners Emory, UC Davies and Vanderbilt Eye Universities.

A small child walks along a hospital corridor, her mother covering one eye with her hand

Public Health Awareness

Along with our partners, we've developed a series of initiatives to generate awareness among the public around ophthalmological health. Examples include health education materials, celebrating global campaign days, radio and TV spots and social media messaging and case studies. The report found that with the promotion of eye care there have been improvements in the quality of health services offered by our partners as well as user satisfaction (see positive patient statement below)

One recipient of eye care services in Peru

We are grate­ful for the doc­tors that come a long way with new tech­nol­o­gy and sci­ence, and who can see chil­dren. They are the light of hope with their new meth­ods they bring.

Fighting Blindness in Peru

While we have made great strides in improving the quality of eye care across Peru, there is still more that needs to be done to tackle the impending blindness crisis and give Peruvians the high standard of eye care that they deserve.

The report recommends we should continue to focus on:

  • Expanding eye care services into other geographic areas
  • Ensuring the sustainability of the retinopathy of prematurity program
  • Formalizing health system improvements
  • Developing a robust process for increased patient follow-ups
  • Building on improvements to patient education, awareness and counseling
  • Promoting inclusivity within eye care initiatives especially gender

We would like to pay a special thanks to the wonderful Regional Institute of Ophthalmology who’ve we’ve been working closely with for nearly 15 years, as well as the Instituto Damos Vision, our partner hospitals and world-leading Volunteer Faculty who have enabled us to change the face of eye care in Peru.

And thanks to you - our supporters, we’re helping improve the quality of eye care in countries like Peru, not just today, but for generations to come.

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