I have just returned from doing some volunteer work in Hanoi, where I was teaching contact lens fitting at the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology. This is the major eye hospital in Hanoi and it generally serves about 2000 patients a day. I was in Vietnam due to the brilliant work of Sight For All, which has as one of its missions the aim of instilling knowledge and skills to eye health professionals throughout the world.
It was an amazing week. Each day I saw about 20 patients in the contact lens clinic with a diverse range of conditions, including keratoconus, corneal grafts and other irregular corneas. In addition, there were many babies with infantile aphakia (see below one of my favourite photos of my trip) as a result of being born with congenital cataracts – these include rubella cataracts as infection with the rubella virus during pregnancy is still a problem in Vietnam – as well as many children who had suffered ocular trauma.
The optometrist (Minh Anh) and her support staff at the hospital were fantastic. To say we were busy is an understatement and yet these wonderful people showed the same care and understanding to every patient who came into the contact lens clinic. I loved working with them and hopefully my visit was helpful. Minh Anh and her staff were also very hospitable, taking me out to lunch every day to sample the local cuisine, as well as taking me for an exciting (and hair-raising!) motor-bike ride around the town on our last day so I could buy some souvenirs for my family.