Establishing lines of communication
In Sri Lanka good eye care is available, but there is no holistic integration of services for people experiencing sight problems, whether curable or not. Many people have to travel for a long time to receive the attention of an ophthalmologist, and although the services are free, the journey itself may be costly. When the patient reaches the ophthalmologist he or she is often awestruck, and asks few questions. The patient may not fully understand the diagnosis or prognosis, and is reluctant to ‘waste the doctor’s time’.
When the patient can grasp the nature of his or her problem there is some peace of mind. One man took his son for two years to different eye specialists, until one doctor had the time to explain the reason for his son’s blindness, that there wasn’t a surgical answer, that his son will remain blind. At last the family could stop wondering and start adapting.
The ophthalmologists are busy, and can only take so long explaining complex eye conditions, diseases, operations and treatments.
Our research has discovered a great number of eye care services, a combination of medical, educational, rehabilitational and social. What is missing is any form of coordination between these services or any awareness amongst anyone of all the services available. Neither is there literature in Tamil or Sinhala about eye conditions, prevention of blindness, what to do if you or a member of your family experiences an eye problem, etc.
- Production of a leaflet about the Sight Information Centre, which eye specialists can give to patients and relatives.
- Establishment of an explanatory service regarding a person’s eye condition, and distribution of free leaflets explaining eye conditions and treatments in Sinhala and Tamil.
- The compilation of a directory of information about the eye units in the hospitals, the educational establishments, the vocational training sites, the social services, and all services related to sight problems and sight preservation.
Consequences of actions
- An easy method has been established for health personnel to introduce patients to follow-up services which are already active.
- Provision of a person who understands and can explain the significance of their eye condition, the reasons for surgery or not, for treatment or not, for sight recovery or not.
- Beginning lines of communication, giving the patient/client a better experience of eye care services, as well as linking professionals in the field with each other and providing a comprehensive list of services.