Learning Across Borders: What a Kenyan Eye Hospital Learned When They Visited Nigeria

This blog appeared originally on the Center for Health Market Innovations blog.

City Eye Hospital is a social venture that provides quality and affordable eye care to people living in Kenya. Eye Foundation Hospital has been operating in Nigeria for 20 years to fight against preventable blindness. The two hospitals partnered up to participate in the 2017 CHMI Learning Exchange.

At City Eye Hospital, our vision is to become the leading eye care provider in East Africa. Since we opened our doors in June 2015, we have achieved remarkable milestones, including growing our outpatient volume by four-fold, performing over 1,000 cataract surgeries (60% of which were provided at no cost to the patient), and developed a robust outreach program that offers free eye screening and eye care products like eye drops and eye glasses at a discounted price. The outreach program has screened over 21,000 people for eye related conditions in just two years.

However, our accelerated growth has inevitably brought challenges, and we hoped to find a way around them with the help of a peer learning program. We decided to apply for CHMI’s Learning Exchange, and to partner with Eye Foundation Hospital (based in Nigeria) because they have been in the eye care field for more than two decades and are the leading eye care provider in the West Africa region. We were certain that there were invaluable lessons that we could learn from them.

Specifically, we hoped to identify solutions to the following issues through the Learning Exchange:

  • Many patients have commended us for the excellent customer service and friendly staff at our facility. How can we maintain a unique customer experience as patient volume grows?
  • Our staff size has more than tripled in the past two years, causing human resource management challenges. How do we ensure that our human resource policy is dynamic enough to address the majority of staff needs?
  • The hospital systems where we’re working aren’t strong enough to handle such a high growth rate.  How do we develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to maintain quality of care?
  • How do we create staff retention incentives for senior doctors and senior members of management?
  • Despite our high growth rate, we aren’t widely known in the country. From our statistics, 80% of new patients are referred by previous happy patients. How do we develop effective marketing strategies to create more awareness of our existence?

What we learned

  • A strong mentorship program for doctors can empower them and improve their performance. Our Chief Medical Director now works with doctors in training for six months to build their confidence before they are allowed to start operating on patients on their own. When this mentorship program was implemented, we saw that the doctors at each hospital demonstrated a full command of hospital operations. It was also a motivating factor for young doctors to work in the hospital.
  • A staff feedback mechanism in each department allows us to address emerging staff issues promptly and enhance their experience in the hospital.
  • Communicating company vision and mission to the rest of the staff consistently enables them to fully buy into the organization, and understand the direction everyone should be moving together to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. At Eye Foundation Hospital, we saw that the vision and mission statement was clearly displayed in every room and department. Even as visitors we were able to understand and internalize the vision and mission of the company.
  • Constant scanning of the market is important to develop strategies responsive to dynamics in the market. Company leadership should meet regularly to develop plans to grow the business and address challenges affecting its growth.
  • Documenting and displaying SOPs clearly on the walls of every room provides clear direction to staff when executing their duties. Dedication to these SOPs was evident at Eye Foundation Hospital, where the motto was “what is not written is not a rule.”
  • There should be post-operative practices for both providers and patients. Post-operative counselling for patients has been incorporated into City Eye Hospital’s SOPs and fully implemented by the counselling department. We’ve received positive feedback from patients who are very impressed with this change. Weekly post-operative review meetings with surgeons and theatre staff, as well as bi-monthly meetings with doctors have also been implemented after the visit to Eye Foundation Hospital.

Challenges faced during implementation

While the lessons learned above were very fundamental to the successful running of our organization, we recognized that challenges would emerge during implementation. These are some of the specific challenges we faced:

  • Kenya and Nigeria have very different cultures, so we couldn’t simply copy and paste the things we learned at Eye Foundation Hospital. Rather, we adapted them to our culture to ensure they were easy for our staff to accept and follow.
  • Staff were sometimes reluctant to adapt. We realized that some changes needed to be introduced gradually since there was resistance from staff, especially older members of staff.

Importance of participating in a learning exchange

Despite the challenges that came along with implementing some of the things learned, we consider learning to be very important, especially among fairly young organizations like ours.

  • When you get first hand exposure at other facilities, you realize that some of the challenges you face in your organization are not unique to you but are common in the industry. This realization can shift your thinking and change your perspective as a leader, allowing you to seek out new solutions and get support from other leaders in the industry.
  • By traveling to Eye Foundation Hospital and seeing things first hand, we were able to seek immediate clarification for any questions or uncertainties we had. We were able to not only observe but even participate in some of the activities. For example, we participated in a brainstorming session with the leadership team which gave us insight on how to conduct such sessions ourselves. We were able to borrow and implement best practices in eye care like post-operative counselling for surgery patients and regular review meetings with surgeons, which has improved quality of care in the hospital.

Take home

Learning should be a daily exercise of any company, and it works best when top management spearheads it. It’s equally important to run an organization with an open mind as this allows you to adapt to new changes which may go long way in improving the running of the organization. I encourage any person considering engaging in a learning activity to go for it. You never know what lies ahead until you venture out to find it. This is what learning does.

Workplace Eye Wellness Tips

Whether you work at a desk or not, eyes can easily be damaged by excessive computer use or the incorrect use of safety equipment.

To protect your eyes during long hours at work, here are six quick tips for healthy eyes in our continued series to mark the Workplace Eye Wellness Month or March.

  1. Adjust your work station

Computer screens are one of the most common ways that eyesight can deteriorate in the workplace, as bright light can cause digital eye strain plus we tend to blink less when using a computer, which leads to dry eyes.

Therefore, to make your workstation friendlier to your eyes, lower your screen’s brightness and blue light. Also, move it further away to make your workspace more comfortable and less damaging to your eyes—our recommended is that your computer screen is about 20 inches from your face and that the top of the screen is level with your nose so that you’re looking down on it.

  1. Take breaks

Staring at a computer screen all day can cause dry eyes, headaches, eye strain, and neck and back pains. One of the best ways to avoid this is by giving your eyes regular breaks. When working on a computer, always remember the 20/20/20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus your vision on something that is placed around 20 feet away. Longer breaks away from your computer will also benefit your eye health, thus get up and take 15 minute breaks every 1–2 hours.

  1. Have eye safety equipment

While office workers often suffer computer-related eye conditions, eye care is just as important for those who don’t work in an office.

In fact, staff who work in industries such as construction, manufacturing and electrical work should protect their eyes against damage by wearing the correct safety eye-wear. They should also know where the nearest eyewash station is at their job site and how to use it in case of any eventuality.

4. Keep a healthy diet

Great eye health starts with a healthy diet. Eating right to protect your sight is paramount. It is therefore important to eat a diet rich in vitamin C and E, Omega–3 fatty acids, and fruits and vegetables, particularly dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale.

5. Have regular eye exams

Having an eye exam at least once every 1–2 years is essential for healthy eyes, especially when you work in an environment that is hazardous to eye health.

During an eye checkup, an ophthalmologist won’t just check for changes in your vision, but will also look for signs of other medical problems and conditions, thus make sure you schedule a routine eye exam.

Do you have a query related to Workplace Eye Wellness or any other eye-related query? Please feel free to contact us via info@cityeyehospital.or.ke

If you have an eye condition or are in need of a routine eye exam, talk to us via +254 (0) 707 777 707 or visit us at City Eye Hospital, Ngong Rd, Opposite Traffic Police Station, Nairobi, Kenya. 

Are you suffering from digital eye strain?

pexels-photo-106344Digital eye strain, also referred to at times as computer eyestrain, is the temporary discomfort that follows two or more hours of digital device use at close or mid range distance of a digital device such as television, desktop, laptops, smart phones, gaming systems etc.

Symptoms of digital eye strain
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye redness
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye irritation
  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
Causes of digital eye strain

Computer use strains eyes more than reading print material because people tend to:

  • View digital screens at less-than-ideal distances or angles
  • Use devices that have glare or reflection
  • Use devices with poor contrast between the text and the background
  • Blink less while using computers (blinking is key to moistening the eyes)

Some other factors that can make digital eye strain to worsen include:

  • Poor posture
  • The setup of your computer workstation
  • Circulating air, such as from air conditioning or a nearby fan

NOTE: Existing eye conditions may play a key role in eye strain. Common ocular conditions—such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, uncorrected refractive error and presbyopia—can be major contributing factors to digital eye strain.

Recommendations

How do you minimise fatigue due to heavy digital eye strain?

  1. Use eyewear with lenses featuring blue light (filtering capabilities) that reduce the negative effects of blue light as well as anti-reflective or anti-glare properties.
  2. Use proper lighting by ensuring there is uniform ambient light and windows on the side (not in front of or behind).
  3. Adjust monitor display settings: brightness, contrast, text size and color temperature (lower the blue light emitted).
  4. Blink more often.
  5. Take more vision breaks: Use the 20-20-20 rule: It is very helpful to take a 2-3 minute break from the screen every 20 minutes. During these breaks, focus on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
  6. Increase text size on devices to better define content on the screen.
  7. Position yourself at arm’s distance away from the screen for proper viewing distance when using a computer.
  8. Reduce overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare.

Remember to visit an eye professional at least once a year in addition to these tips to ensure your eye health is 100%. Happy Workplace Eye Wellness Month!

Do you have a query related to Digital Eye Strain or any other eye-related query? Please feel free to contact us via info@cityeyehospital.or.ke

If you have an eye condition or are in need of a routine eye exam, talk to us via +254 (0) 707 777 707 or visit us at City Eye Hospital, Ngong Rd, Opposite Traffic Police Station, Nairobi, Kenya. 

Common workplace eye injuries

workplace-injuriesOur first post in our series to mark the Workplace Eye Wellness Awareness Month of March we delve into the world of work-related eye injuries.

So what if I told you that tens of people suffer vision loss or injure their eye by preventable accidents at the workplace? Eye injuries alone are a huge loss in production time and medical compensation and in some cases, sight.

No one is immune to eye problems and injuries no matter the field of work you are in. Eye problems at work range from eye strain or computer vision syndrome to dry eye syndrome to trauma to a slip, trip or fall caused by a wet floor.

Those who don’t have the typical office desk are exposed to even more risks. Think of the lab technicians who work with chemicals or people at the construction sites or mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, grinding machine operators. Think about health care workers, laboratory and janitorial staff.  What do all these hardworking citizens have in common?

So what are some of the key causes of eye injuries at the work place are:

  • Bright lights: Welders produce an intense amount of light that can be harmful to the eye. The use of welders without the correct safety equipment at the work place has the potential to cause temporary or permanent eye damage.
  • Chemicals: Chemicals are used in many factory based jobs. If they come into contact with the face through splashes or spillages, they can cause burns which in turn can harm the eye. Training and having safety equipment is very crucial to avoid sustaining an eye injury at work.
  • Electric shocks: We use electrical products on a daily basis, but an electric shock has the potential to cause eyesight damage. This can occur through the shock itself or the exposure to a sudden bright flash of light.
  • Grit and other particles: Our eyelashes and protective socket are designed to protect the eye from damage. However, frequent exposure to grit at work, particularly through the use of manufacturing machinery, has the potential to cause eye injury, especially if protective equipment such as goggles is not provided. Other forms of exposure can occur through grinding or hammering, where splinters or slivers of material such as metal are ejected at high velocity from the machine towards operators or nearby employees.
  • Head trauma: An impact to the face or head can cause a direct injury to the eye, but a blow or impact to the head in the workplace or any form of head trauma can lead to internal and external eye injuries, which have the potential to cause a loss of sight or even blindness.
  • Sharp or flying objects: We come into contact with sharp objects on a daily basis. If these objects are used in the wrong way or carelessly placed, they have the real risk of causing serious harm to a person’s eyesight.
To prevent or reduce eye injuries at the work place:
  • Know the eye safety dangers at work and complete an eye hazard assessment
  • Eliminate hazards before starting work
  • Use proper eye protection
  • Have your eyes examined once a year to evaluate any unforeseen eye injuries or conditions
  • Wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear
  • Ensure eye safety measures are available depending on the hazard in your work place, including non-prescription and prescription safety glasses, goggles, face shields , welding helmets and full-face respirators

Do you have a query related to an eye injury at work or any other eye-related query? Please feel free to contact us via info@cityeyehospital.or.ke

If you have an eye condition or are in need of a routine eye exam, talk to us via +254 (0) 707 777 707 or visit us at City Eye Hospital, Ngong Rd, Opposite Traffic Police Station, Nairobi, Kenya.