Eye test charts will make a difference to Zimbabwean children

26 February 2018

Hereford’s BBR Optometry delivers specialist eye charts to Zimbabwe

A set of specialist eye examination charts have arrived safely in Zimbabwe as part of a programme to help the visual needs of children in the country, thanks to Hereford-based BBR Optometry.

It was after BBR director and optometrist, Nick Rumney, found out, during a conference in South Africa that there were no Pelli-Robson eye charts in Zimbabwe that he decided to find some to send to the country.

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

Such a test is an important measure of visual function, especially in low light, fog or glare, and can affect people with 20/20 vision. In fact, the normal high contrast letter chart frequently overestimates vision and we often see people for a second opinion who have 20/20 vision but enough cataract to degrade vision. 

Last Thursday the charts arrived at the office of Lynett Masiwa who runs the University Eye Clinic in Harare. Lynett, who had trained at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Cardiff University, had told Nick about the lack of such charts in the country.

“Just to let you know the CS charts made it to Zimbabwe in perfect condition. We will forever be indebted to you all, especially Nick, who promised me these after a few minutes of chatting at a CL conference in South Africa where he had just met me on the day,” said Lynett.

It was after the conference that Nick decided to hunt down the charts. He knew a company called Haag-Streit had produced them originally. “They told me they no longer printed them but another company in the US did. Fortunately, with the intervention of Dean Johnson at Haag-Streit we were able to source some old stock. ,” said Nick.

He added: “The charts are important for optometrists in a country like Zimbabwe where access to health care is difficult. The charts can help deal with the low vision needs of patients in the country where poor eyesight is more prevalent among children than adults and the elderly in Zimbabwe.”

“Even more exciting is that Lynette has just opened the newest optometry school in the world, in Harare and I am looking forward to going to visit and do some teaching in the years to come.”