PNG visit an eye-opener

Dr. John Farmer, L&F Eyecare partner and optometrist, has just returned from PNG where he spent two weeks with the University of PNG teaching ophthalmology trainees at the Port Moresby General Hospital Eye Clinic.

Dr. Farmer puts this in context; “With only nine ophthalmologists available to a population of 7 million people, there is a great need for more ophthalmologists to be trained. It is really encouraging to see two doctors take on the challenge of training to become part of the eye care delivery team in PNG.”

Another focus of Dr. Farmer’s visit to PNG was to equip the ophthalmologists in the eye clinic with the skills to make best use of two new pieces of computerised diagnostic equipment.

“I had arranged for a computerised visual fields unit and an early model OCT to be freighted and installed at the eye clinic late last year,” explains Dr Farmer. “They had been donated by Melbourne optometrist Paula Monaco and one of L&F Eyecare’s supply partners, Zeiss Australia. Zeiss also refurbished both pieces of equipment so have been critical in providing access to this technology.”

“Using an OCT is the only way to see a cross section of the retina, which provides the best opportunity for diagnosing macular disease and optic nerve changes,” says Dr. Farmer. “The local ophthalmologists were just delighted to receive the fields unit and OCT. It’s the first of each they have had in the eye clinic. It was a pleasure for me to be able to show them how to get the best out of these pieces of equipment.”

During his time in PNG, Dr. Farmer also travelled to Madang to see the 30 ophthalmic clinicians who have graduated over the past few years from the Post Graduate Diploma in Eye Care at DWU (Divine Word University). Dr. Farmer worked for two years as Head of the Eye Care Department at DWU and describes this time in Madang as “like going home to see old friends”. “These rural doctors and nurses were attending a workshop and had asked me to help them form a national association as a further step in their maturity as eye care workers,” Dr Farmer says.

For 20 years, L&F Eyecare has been supporting Dr. Farmer in these visits to train doctors and nurses in PNG to be able to deliver better eye care. Dr. Farmer is expected to return to PNG in September to attend the medical symposium and ophthalmology specialty meetings.