What is an Optician?
Opticians are technicians trained to verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames and other devices to correct eyesight. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.
Opticians in Kurdistan?
Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous, well-developed region of Iraq located between Iran, Turkey and the rest of Iraq. It has a population of approximately 5.5 million, and 1.7 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). Sulaymaniyah, with its modern, rapidly growing capital, is the largest of the 3 provinces with more than 90 % of the people Muslim, and minority groups of Yezidis, Christians, and Turkmen. Even though the threat of terrorism or war exists, it is known for its safety. Following some boom years, development has slowed due to political tensions and the economic crisis that hit the region.
Research into the optical services available to the local people reveals the tremendous need for more, well-trained opticians who can produce quality glasses and meet the increasing demand. Eye care services are but a small part of the health department and optical services are minuscule. In the whole of the Kurdish region of Iraq, there is no training opportunity for opticians and 95% of the local “opticians” haven’t had any formal training at all, so the need for a good training programme is immense.
Hospitals are always thankful when qualified people can help to improve the skills of their professionals. As a result, the Aso Eye Hospital in conjunction with ARI (Asian Renewal Incorporated) is taking its first steps in establishing an Optician Training Centre which will function at the hospital.
The process involves finding the equipment and material needed to run a Training Centre and shop, making contact with suppliers in the Middle East, preparing a culturally relevant and high standard curriculum in accordance with the equipment and products available, defining the criteria for the selection of students and the selection and thorough training of the prospective Optician staff.
The Optician Training Centre functions in partnership with the Department of Health with a view to
- Finalizing the constructional changes of the workshop and teaching room designated at the hospital;
- Providing all the equipment necessary before beginning the training (the Eye Hospital’s commitment).
- Selecting some students who fulfill the necessary requirements for the one-year training course.
- Launching the training course with a focus on both theory and practice.
The Key – Working Together
This project has been three years in the making due to the economic and other challenges facing the Middle East, however, the launch is planned for January 2017. The Director of the Aso Eye Hospital has been involved in the project since the beginning and a professional Optician from ARI (an NGO) in cooperation with local Ophthalmologists will train the students, who will be local people. Once trained and working in the Eye Hospital they will also be able to set up shops and make glasses for the people. Having government approval, the project will function under the Directorate of Health of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate.
Ultimate Goal and First Steps
The ultimate goal is to have improved eye care services, by preparing “Well-trained opticians in the Sulaymaniyah Governorate” and the first steps will be:
- Creating a project team for the practical implementation of the training course, by May/June 16 (Done!)
- Raising funds for the training and setup costs, the workshop and the teaching room by August 16. At the moment some US$100,000.00 is still needed to meet the budget of US$160,000.00.
- After the initial training programme, we trust the project will become self-supporting.
Any support you can give for this initial launch of the Optician Training Project which will restore or improve the eye-sight of hundreds of people can be given by clicking on one of the Donate buttons on this page.