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Optometry staff and students' life changing mission in Ghana

30 November 2023

Picture of Optometry Staff and Students in Ghana

A dedicated team of optometry students embarked on a life-changing journey to Ghana, where they made a significant impact through their eye care outreach mission.

Over the course of their trip, the team provided eye care services, observed surgeries and collaborated with local healthcare professionals. The trip demonstrates the school's commitment to producing socially responsible and globally aware graduates, who use the skills they gain at Cardiff University to make a meaningful impact.

Teaching Associate, Pete Hong, who led the trip said:

"Optometry students have the chance to engage in overseas volunteering trips as part of their studies, which is made possible through 'Taith' bursaries and fundraising students undertake themselves.

Students have been participating in overseas projects with me for over 20 years, initially in Eastern Europe and later in Africa. They have all been amazing and always exceed my expectations."

Hospital Days

Upon arrival, the team visited Watborg Eye Hospital, providing an insight into the surgical side of optometry in Ghana. Here they observed various eye surgeries and gained insight into life-changing procedures for patients.

Another day at the Christian Eye Centre gave the team an in-depth understanding of the patient journey within a Ghanaian hospital by experiencing a range of eye assessments and measurements.

Outreach Days

During their stay in Ghana, the team conducted outreach visits in six locations around the Cape Coast, collaborating closely with optometry students from the University of Cape Coast (UCC). The outreach days involved conducting eye tests, diagnosis of various eye conditions and prescribing glasses - significantly improving patients' quality of life.

The students witnessed firsthand the positive impact of knowledge exchange and collaboration and were able to observe several life-changing eye operations and procedures.

Students treating patients at an outreach day in Ghana
Students treating patients at an outreach day in Ghana

"Our trip to Ghana was an incredible experience, and a privilege at this stage of our studies. The invaluable skills learnt on outreach, and the incredible knowledge from Ghanaian optometry students and staff are some I am extremely grateful for, and have helped me grow into a more confident Optometrist. These skills and knowledge will travel with me throughout my practicing life."

Amber Block, 3rd year optometry student

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The team later attended a CPD day for Ghanaian optometrists at the University of Cape Coast, where a series of lectures covered a range of topics and practical skills.

They also had the chance to explore Ghana's natural beauty, including a thrilling canopy walk at Kakum National Park and a visit to Cape Coast Castle.

To end the journey, they had the honour of sharing dinner and dancing with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, strengthening bonds between the universities and fostering future collaborations.

The success of the mission was made possible through generous donations from individuals and organizations, including Dame Mary Perkins, Louis Stone, Proluxe Clothing, and Scope. The team also expressed their gratitude to the University of Cape Coast and its staff for their support and hospitality.