Last month, eight eye nurses in Madang, Papua New Guinea (PNG), attended the first Advance Refraction and Low Vision (ARLV) course held in the country. Over three weeks, they gained the essential skills needed to prescribe custom-made spectacles and manage complex refractive cases.
Refractive errors, which include short-sightedness (myopia), far-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism, and presbyopia, are the most common cause of vision impairment across the globe. Typically, refractive errors are corrected with spectacles, contacts, or in some cases, eye surgery. It is predicted that by 2050, half the world’s population will need custom-made spectacles due to the growing prevalence of short-sightedness. This trend, along with aging populations that rely on spectacles, and successful eye health awareness efforts that have increased demand for services, highlighted the need to grow capability in this area.
In response, our team developed the Advanced Refraction and Low Vision (ARLV) short course. First held at the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji in November 2022, it has since been taken to PNG where it was run in partnership with Divine Word University. Another course is planned to take place later this year in Samoa for eye nurse graduates across the Pacific region.
The course is divided into three weeks, with a week each focused on advanced refraction, low vision and optical dispensing. Morning sessions cover theory, while in the afternoon they focus on practical lessons where they can apply what they have learnt directly to patient scenarios. This gives students a chance to see what a routine eye examination entails, including refraction and prescribing custom spectacles. The feedback from both courses so far has been positive, with many graduates saying how appreciative they are to have the chance to refresh and refine their skills.
We’d like to thank our partners, in particular The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for making this course possible. Their support is helping to equip local health workers with the skills they need to better serve their communities and the unique challenges they face. With a more robust eye health workforce, we can better ensure that everyone has access to the quality eye care they deserve.