Carolina Kunnen a PhD student at UNSW’s School of Optometry and Vision Science recently submitted her thesis examining dry eye symptoms in relation to meibomian gland dysfunction. In addition to her PhD work Carolina runs a non-government organisation in Ghana called The Optical Foundation. The Optical Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation working to make eye care accessible, through screenings, education and research.
Screenings: Carolina established the first project of the foundation in 2007 in collaboration with the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. The aim of The Optical Foundation is to make eye care accessible by performing eye examinations for children in Ghana. These screenings are performed in primary schools, orphanages and in other communities. The focus of The Optical Foundation is specifically on children. Uncorrected refraction error can be hugely detrimental to a child’s development. Early detection of refractive errors can significantly diminish illiteracy. The Optical Foundation aims to provide glasses for children in need, and refers children for further treatment when necessary.
Education: Carolina explains that the Foundation also helps train Ghanaian optometry students, with the emphasis on empowering female students. By inviting these optometrists–in-training to the screenings, the program helps them to gain practical experience and encourages them to become specialists in their own country.