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Subspecialties Retina, Health Economics and Policy, Other, Imaging & Diagnostics

Making a Difference Globally

I’ve always been interested in the challenges of developing country ophthalmology and avoidable world blindness. Before becoming a consultant ophthalmologist at Leicester Hospital in the UK, I’d had a rather unusual career spending nine years overseas in Pakistan and Nigeria. I’d seen first-hand the totally different disease spectrum in the developing world; vitamin A deficiency, post-measles keratitis, onchocerciasis, trachoma and fungal keratitis (to name a few of the worst) were all extremely common in some areas and you just wouldn’t see them in many developed countries. The burden of preventable and treatable eye disease was also huge. Reflecting on this, I realized that there was no available resources for working and teaching in developing countries, which stimulated me to write two textbooks (“Eye Diseases in Hot Climates” and “Eye Surgery in Hot Climates”). Over the years, I ended up spending three to four weeks each year in different countries, so I kept my focus on the problems in the developing world. In 1997, I was working in a hospital in Gondar (Ethiopia) and, as far as I could discover, there was only one ophthalmoscope in the entire teaching hospital – one that served around 10 million patients! Outside of the teaching hospital, there wasn’t any quality eyecare at all. “Something needs to be done about this,” I thought.

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About the Author

John Sandford-Smith

John Sandford-Smith is an emeritus Consultant Ophthalmologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary. He is a widely-respected expert on eye diseases and has been extensively involved in teaching, training and voluntary work, both during his career and since his retirement in 2000. In 2007, he received an MBE for services to blind people in developing countries.

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