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Approximately 314 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness.145 million people's low vision is due to uncorrected refractive errors1.One of the solutions to creating sustainable eye care structures is education of personnel2.
The Technological University Dublin (DIT) with ICEE (International Centre of Eyecare Education) is developing and implementing a sustainable model for optometric education and eye care service delivery in Unilurio in Mozambique.The Mozambique Eyecare Project aims to train Mozambique’s first professional optometrists who will provide a sustainable and comprehensive eye-care system as an integral part of the national health system3. Mozambique currently has only 17 ophthalmologists for a population of 21 million and 34 trained Ophthalmic Technicians (OCO) the only two providers of refraction services within the local health system4.
The purpose of this research is to evaluate the confidence levels, knowledge and core competencies of the ophthalmic technicians in refraction to provide a better understanding of the existing situation.
i) Background questionnaire to obtain data on their years of experience and the training they had received.
ii) Investigative tools: Confidence levels questionnaire, oral refraction quiz and a refraction competency assessment
The OCO’s were trained in 3 different institutions, in Cuba, Mozambique and Malawi. The Cuban trained OCO’s had studied refraction to different levels but due to lack of equipment had never practised basic retinoscopy or subjective refraction for astigmatism. They were not competent in performing refractions unsupervised.The ones trained in Mozambique and Malawi had not studied refraction hence were not competent in performing refractions at all.
By identifying strengths and weaknesses of the OCO’s refraction knowledge and skills, training and continuing education can be tailored accordingly. This information would also allow ICEE and DIT to compare and contrast refraction training for both the student Optometrists and the existing OCO’s to improve overall refraction service provision in Mozambique.
Shah, K. Evaluation of Refraction Skills and Competencies of Ophthalmic Technicians - providers of refractive services in Mozambique. Poster Presentationn at the European Academy of Optics and Optometry, Dublin April 2012.