|Nguyen Thi Thang, 82, can
manage household tasks
following cataract surgery.
Approximately half a million people are known to be blind in Vietnam. Poor vision care, infrastructure, a shortage of trained ophthalmic professionals and limited access to affordable sight-saving services encumber the nation’s eye care situation. As most eye care professionals are based in larger cities or urban areas and due to economic difficulties, many people are still unable to receive access to eye care services. As a result, treatment is often sought out too late and only for the most serious eye conditions.
ORBIS began collaborating with the Vietnamese eye sector in 1996 through hospital-based programs. Long-term eye care projects with local partners in Vietnam in were launched in 2000 to carry out intensive and appropriate interventions for sustainable blindness prevention. A permanent ORBIS office was established in Vietnam in 2003.
ORBIS’s work in
Vietnam concentrates on:
- Increasing access to comprehensive eye care among rural communities
- Building the capacity of national institutions to take the lead in blindness prevention services and the provision of ophthalmic training
- Pediatric ophthalmology, especially the diagnosis and treatment of retinopathy of prematurity
- Corneal disease, eye banking and corneal donation
- Cataract services
|ORBIS volunteer faculty member
Dr. August Reader examines a patient at
Ho Chi Minh City Eye Hospital.
During 2011, ORBIS Vietnam made significant progress:
- Two Child Friendly Eye Care Units were opened in rural Phu Tho and Ha Nam provinces of Vietnam.
- The first set of babies with Retinopathy of Prematurity were treated in Hue. This opened a new chapter for eye care services in the central region of Vietnam helping premature babies avoid long journeys to larger eye care centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh for treatment.
- At the end of 2011, Ho Chi Minh Eye Hospital, Vietnam became the first Institution in the nation to provide the pediatric ophthalmology training accredited by the Ministry of Health and in compliance with international standards.
ORBIS "firsts" in Vietnam
ORBIS has achieved numerous “firsts” regarding eye care in
- ORBIS built the capacity of its local partners in
Vietnam to prevent, detect and treat retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), an avoidable disorder caused when premature infants are incubated without proper monitoring of oxygen levels. This was the first project of its kind anywhere in the country.
- By setting up the first pediatric eye care networks of skilled health personnel across the three provinces of Vietnam, ORBIS has been actively strengthening Vietnam's capacity to address childhood blindness on a national scale.
- ORBIS designed a model rural eye care project in Phu Tho Province, Vietnam, through which eye care providers are trained to screen, diagnose and treat cataract and other blinding conditions. The first of its kind, no such training or services had previously been available outside of
Vietnam’s major cities.
- ORBIS helped establish
Vietnam’s first national eye bank.
- ORBIS funded the first wet lab in
Vietnam, located in the Vietnamese National Institute of Ophthalmology in
Hanoi, where ophthalmologists can practice surgical procedures on animal eyes before operating on humans.
- ORBIS initiated the development of the first working group in
Vietnam on VISION 2020 — a global effort to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. This national committee, consisting of NGOs and INGOs working on eye health as well as the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, provincial representatives and key ORBIS partners, will develop a national plan of action to achieve VISION 2020 goals and objectives throughout Vietnam.
*Blindness is defined as visual acuity of less than 3/60 or a corresponding visual field loss to less than 10 degrees in the better eye with best possible correction.
** Low vision is defined as visual acuity of less than 6/18 but equal to or better than 3/60, or a corresponding visual field loss to less than 20 degrees in the better eye with best possible correction.