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BHVI help Haiti launch country’s first optometry school

18/04/2018By Matthew Woodley
A collaboration involving the Brien Holden Vision Institute opened Haiti’s first optometry school last month, in a positive step for the country’s severely underserved population.

Currently, only three optometrists and 56 ophthalmologists treat the Caribbean nation’s 10 million citizens, who have the highest levels of blindness and moderate or severe vision impairment among people aged 50 and over, in the entire Latin America and Caribbean region.

It is hoped the creation of the Haiti Optometry Program will help resolve common, curable vision issues such as uncorrected refractive error in an effort to reduce the prevalence of vision impairment and blindness, which is three times greater than some other countries in the region.


“This day is a landmark and celebratory occasion in the development of eyecare services for the people of Haiti, while also giving a glimpse into the future personnel that will contribute to the country’s long term comprehensive vision care framework.”
Dr Luigi Bilotto, BHVI director of global education

Nineteen students have been accepted into the initial group for the five year Optometry and Vision Science degree at I’Université d’État d’Haïti, which its dean of medicine and pharmacy Dr Jean-Claude Cadet described as a milestone for the country.

“This is an incredible moment for the future of eyecare in Haiti. I look forward to the day the first group of optometrists graduate, and we see the benefits in our communities, especially with the reduction of avoidable blindness due to uncorrected refractive error,” Cadet said.

It’s expected new graduates will eventually relieve ophthalmologists from the management of numerous eye conditions and allow them to focus on their areas of specialty – medical and surgical treatment.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be here to witness the official opening of Haiti’s first optometry school,” BHVI’s director of global education Dr Luigi Bilotto said.

“This day is a landmark and celebratory occasion in the development of eyecare services for the people of Haiti, while also giving a glimpse into the future personnel that will contribute to the country’s long term comprehensive vision care framework.”

The Haiti Optometry Program is a collaboration between I’Université d’État d’Haïti, BHVI, Optometry Giving Sight, Charity Vision, VOSH International and l’Université de Montréal.

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Image courtesy: planeJ | Flickr

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