April 12 marked the official opening of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of I’Université d’État d’Haïti.
Over the last 5 years, Optometry Giving Sight and its partners in the global optometric community have worked together to establish this school so the people of Haiti could help their own communities and their country see better, according to a press release from the group.
Until now, only three local optometrists have provided care in a country of more than 10 million people, which has the highest level of blindness, most of it avoidable, in the region, Optometry Giving Sight said.
The school’s 5-year degree program will seek to graduate 16 optometrists per year.
“The new graduates will have a significant impact for the eye care landscape in Haiti,” Juan Carlos Aragon, OD, Optometry Giving Sight chair, said in the release. “[Each will be] able to see 3,000 patients per year, on average.”
Susan Quinn, OD, and Tom Quinn, OD, from Ohio traveled to Haiti the week of the school opening on behalf of major donor Vision Source.
“We’ve seen firsthand how the work of Optometry Giving Sight delivers on the vision of building optometry schools, educating talented local young people and providing continuity of care in underserved countries around the globe,” they said in the release. “We believe this [school] has the potential to profoundly transform lives.”
Other partners include Brien Holden Vision Institute, VOSH International, Charity Vision, I’Université de Montréal, Essilor Canada and Digicel Foundation.