Charting a visual journey for Zimbabweans

A plea for help in obtaining specialist eye test charts to be used on patients in Zimbabwe has been answered by Hereford-based BBR Optometry.

BBR director and optometrist, Nick Rumney, was told there were no Pelli-Robson eye charts in the country when he met the head of an eye clinic from Zimbabwe during a contact lens conference in South Africa.

Pelli-Robson eye charts are different to conventional eye examination charts as they measure contrast sensitivity in a patient’s eyesight compared to the ability to recognise smaller and larger letters of high contrast.

Such a test is an important measure of visual function, especially in low light, fog or glare, and can even affect people with 20/20 vision. 

Mr Rumney said: “During the conference I met Lynett Masiwa who runs the University Eye Clinic in Harare. She had trained at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Cardiff University and told me that they didn’t have any Pelli-Robson charts in the country.

“Such charts are important in dealing with the low vision needs of the country, particularly as low vision is more prevalent among children than adults in Zimbabwe when compared to the developed world.

“I knew the charts had been produced by a company called Haag-Streit. They informed me they no longer did, however they had some unsold stock which they didn’t need. They kindly donated two of the charts to the University Eye Clinic.”

Mr Rumney added: “It’s important for us all to understand the importance of eye care and the prevention of sight loss not only at home in the UK, but throughout the world, particularly in countries like Zimbabwe where access to medical help and equipment that we might take for granted is not so available.”

The charts will now be used to help prevent sight loss and visual impairment in patients young and old attending the university’s eye clinic in Harare.

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