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To double the original estimate of population attended. This is what the team from the Fundación Fernández-Vega who travelled last March to Bata (Equatorial Guinea) did in a joint initiative with Aldeas Infantiles SOS. The Spanish expedition – constituted by ophthalmologist Dr Tomás Parra Rodríguez, optometrist Pedro Estévez, Dr Francisco Javier Rodrigo, anaesthesiologist, nurse Tamara Fernández Rodríguez and collaborator Blanca Muñoz Sandoval – had planned to provide healthcare assistance to 226 individuals, but thanks to the answer of the community and the considerable collaboration of the staff of Aldeas Infantiles, they were able to intensify their efforts and assist 480 patients in total.

As Dr Parra – surgeon of the IOFV – explained when he came back, many of the individuals attended were children from the Aldea Infantil SOS in Bata, and they underwent a full eye examination. Furthermore, “when necessary, we provided eye medical treatment and we will send glasses with the correct prescription to all those individuals we detected refractive defects,” said the specialist.

Several cases of pterygium were detected among the adults checked; these were operated on “in situ”. This disease is caused by the proliferation of fibrovascular tissue invading the cornea and hindering vision. “We also performed emergency surgery on a child due to severe corneal perforation and some eye explorations under anaesthesia,” highlighted Dr Parra. None of the patients had been seen by an ophthalmologist before.

At the medical centre of Bata the professionals had two rooms, one of them set up as an operating room, as well as non-perishable material that had been provided by other Spanish medical teams from different specialisations that had previously participated in expeditions to the African country.

The team from the IOFV, who also took their own material from Oviedo, wanted to profit their stay to provide basic training on eye care to patients and their families, with recommendations on hand hygiene before touching one’s eyes, the need to protect them from the sun or the possibility of alleviating the obstruction of the tear duct through massages, consistency on applying eye drops correctly and the way of doing so to avoid worsening some diagnoses.

Professionals from the Fundación Fernández-Vega will return in the future to carry out new campaigns and thus cover a wider population area around Bata. “We will also train local physicians with core principles of ophthalmology, as well as ophthalmologists in the fundamentals of cataract surgery,” said Dr Tomás Parra.