Evaluation of the Impact of Foreign Cataract Surgery Teaching Efforts in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Sophia Jackman

Name: Sophia Jackman
School: Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Class of 2024
Mentor: Lisa Park, MD

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This study aimed to determine the impact of foreign teaching of phacoemulsification cataract surgery in Ethiopia. Cataracts in Ethiopia are a major cause of preventable blindness and low vision, affecting over 600,000 and 1.2 million people, respectively. Manual surgery is the primary cataract treatment in low-income countries. Phacoemulsification surgery, the standard of care in developed countries, leads to faster recovery with fewer complications, but higher cost and inaccessibility. Since 2012, the NGO Vision Care has worked to improve surgical care by teaching an annual Phacoemulsification Training Course (PTC) to Ethiopian surgeons. We are conducting a nonrandomized online survey of Ethiopian ophthalmologists, including PTC participants, and aim to perform follow-up interviews. We developed a survey with questions including the number and type of surgeries performed yearly and resource availability. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were performed on data from questionnaires from 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019. The 21 PTC trainees comprised 15% of practicing Ethiopian ophthalmologists with 16 in Addis Ababa and 9 female. The 138 responses from ophthalmologists surveyed in various years indicated a mean of 9.03 years in practice. Between years, significant differences were found in the proportion of surgeons performing manual (p=0.0396), but not phacoemulsification (p=0.0984), surgery. The median number of annual manual and phacoemulsification surgeries performed did not differ significantly. Preliminary results suggest that manual surgery exceeds phacoemulsification in quantity and significant differences in the annual number of surgeries performed were not found. Data for 2021 is being collected and is not included in the analysis.