Young girl from Ethiopia looks at the camera smiling. She has a noticeable misalignment in one of her eyes.

Liyat has a future of healthy vision ahead

From a young age, Liyat had trouble focusing her eyes. As her strabismus got worse, she became at risk of having life-long vision problems. But at a recent Orbis in-person training program, Liyat had her vision corrected – she now has a future of healthy sight ahead!

Shortly after Liyat was born, her mother noticed something concerning about her eyes.

Liyat had a condition known as strabismus, which causes the eyes to look in different directions when focusing. Like it did for Liyat, strabismus typically occurs in early childhood and, if not treated early on in life, it can have a permanent effect on a child’s vision – and even lead to blindness.

By age three, Liyat’s condition had worsened, and her strabismus became even more noticeable. Her concerned mother decided to bring Liyat to the hospital to have her eyes screened.

Doctors suggested Liyat wear glasses, which helped her for a short period of time … though they often broke. Her mother inquired about surgery to correct her strabismus, but local doctors had limited training and experience administering anaesthesia to young patients, so they were unwilling to perform the surgery.

Liyat’s mother even brought her to Addis Ababa, several hours away from their home, to seek a better treatment … yet they were unsuccessful in finding the corrective surgery to help her.

Young girl from Ethiopia smiling at the camera from the waiting room in hospital

Liyat awaits surgery to correct her strabismus.

But Liyat’s mother never gave up, so she was excited to learn about another chance to help her now 11-year-old daughter: an opportunity for Liyat’s eyes to be examined and corrected at Orbis’s recent training program at a local hospital near her home in Hawassa, Ethiopia.

At this program, the Orbis team worked alongside local providers to correct Liyat’s vision. Now, she has a future of healthy sight ahead!

Liyat’s parents were overjoyed by the outcome of her surgery, describing it as a “miracle.” Her mother shared her hope: “…for other parents to get the same opportunity who are struggling to get this kind of service for their children.

And Liyat was thrilled to have her vision restored! She even surprised her friends when she no longer needed glasses. Liyat shared with us, “I have worn my eyeglasses for almost my entire life. And seeing me like this makes them happy, which made me happy!”

Liyat is excited to have a future of healthy sight!

Preventing Blindness Through In-person Training

Orbis works around the globe to provide sight-saving treatment to children and adults with a variety of eye conditions. And, at the same time, we also train local professionals to care for people in their communities long after our training programs are over.

Working with local hospital partners, our team of Volunteer Faculty members travel to countries like Ethiopia (where Liyat received quality care to correct her vision) to bring crucial in-person learning experiences to eye professionals in under-resourced communities.

The local teams gain critical skills for delivering eye care – skills that can be transferred to their colleagues and help improve the quality of care exponentially.

Fentaw Belaw, an anaesthetist at Hawassa University in Ethiopia, attended his first in-person training program with Orbis and was inspired immensely.

With resource limitations in his home country, Fentaw was enthusiastic about learning new techniques through the highly detailed trainings offered by Orbis team members like Dr Choyce, a long-time staff member and expert anaesthetist. With training from Dr Choyce, local anaesthetists will have the experience they need to care for younger children – which means kids like Liyat can receive the sight-saving care they need without delay.

Because of Orbis’s in-person training programs, eye care professionals like Fentaw can gain the knowledge and confidence to provide quality eye care to their communities. And each training program makes a huge impact!

As Dr Choyce notes, “The work of the hospital-based training is really fundamental to the skills exchange and the capacity building work that we do.”

Young girl talks to the doctors who will be treating her

Liyat meets with Dr Choyce and local anaesthetist Fentaw Belaw prior to surgery.

Find Out How You Can Become Part of the Orbis Family

Vision loss is an issue which affects millions of people around the world, and we have the tools to bring eye care closer to home for those who need it most.

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