Partnerships Are Preventing Poor Vision among Macedonia’s Young Children

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Dr. Biljana Kostovska at a mobile eye screening camp in Skopje
Dr. Biljana Kostovska at a mobile eye screening camp in Skopje
Children with Visual Impairment Project

“I am so happy to be a part of this noble cause with my colleagues. It is always fun to work with children, but being able to help them is the best feeling,”

November 2018 – After an eight hour day at Sistina Ophthalmology Clinic in Macedonia’s capital Skopje, Dr. Biljana Kostovska volunteers as a Lions Club member conducting eye screenings. She is one of the most renowned ophthalmologists in Macedonia and a leader among 15 doctors volunteering to conduct free eye screening for children between 3-8 years of age. 

Ophthalmologists in Macedonia have been urging parents to get their children tested as early as three years of age to detect early symptoms and prevent severe vision problems later on. Over the past three years, Dr. Kostovska and her colleagues have screened over 27,575 young children and referred an average of 18 percent for additional eye examinations.

These efforts are one result of a partnership between USAID, the Lions Club International Foundation, and the Southeast European University (SEEU) in Skopje, Macedonia aimed at increasing the quality and availability of education services for students with visual impairments. One of the main objectives of the partnership is the detection and prevention of eye diseases at an early stage. In addition to mobile clinics, Lions Club Foundation funded 15 portable eye refractometers that have enabled -- for the very first time -- eye screenings in kindergartens across Macedonia. SEEU has also partnered with Macedonia’s Ministry of Health to legally mandate eye examinations of children by their family physicians, and with Sistina Ophthalmology Clinic, a leading eye-care hospital in Skopje, to conduct pro bono eye examinations for children who have been referred for additional testing.  Thanks to the participation of Sistina Ophthalmology Clinic, over 2,000 children have received free comprehensive eye examinations and interventions valued at $54,000.

“I am so happy to be a part of this noble cause with my colleagues. It is always fun to work with children, but being able to help them is the best feeling,” says Dr. Kostovska. During the 2016 Lions Club National Convention in Macedonia, Dr. Kostovska was awarded an International Leadership Medal for invaluable contributions to children with visual impairments. At this year’s Eye European Congress, she was selected to present a research paper on eye anomalies among Macedonian children, an understanding informed by eye screenings conducted through the project.

These joint efforts of volunteer ophthalmologists, Sistina Ophthalmology Clinic, the Ministry of Health, the Lions Club and USAID are creating systemic and sustainable change in early eye-care across Macedonia.

 

Last updated: February 19, 2019

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