UNC Global Ophthalmology inspires next-generation ophthalmologists (residents) and future physicians (medical students) to make meaningful contributions to ocular health and patient outcomes in underserved populations. To this end, our global health program hosts opportunities for learners to observe practices that improve access to medical and surgical management of ocular conditions and disease globally and domestically in reaching under-served North Carolinians.
ACROSS THE GLOBE
UNC Global Ophthalmology encourages second- and third-year (PGY3/PGY4) ophthalmology residents to learn global citizenship on cultural exchange via pursuing an international rotation. A primary training goal for residents taking this elective is to help treat comprehensive and complex ocular conditions in a clinical setting within a highly under-resourced region worldwide. In one- or two-week international rotations, residents are immersed in intensive clinical care supervised by an accompanying faculty mentor from UNC or another academic medical center.
Many residents taking an international rotation have created opportunities in various countries such as India, Peru, China, Thailand, and Dominican Republic. In support of the department’s long-standing collaborative partnership with Tema Christian Eye Center, our residents also travel to Tema, Ghana, to provide comprehensive and complex ocular care in a high-volume clinic that relies upon well-trained, visiting eye specialists from the US, UK, and other developed countries. Tema Christian Eye Center also serves as a hub for collaborative research opportunities in Ghana to study the epidemiology and impact of blindness, visual impairment, and glaucoma in West Africa.
LOCAL TO GLOBAL
UNC Global Ophthalmology recognizes that every individual’s right to obtain high-quality ocular care isn’t restricted to the most health-stricken areas worldwide. Our program takes a “Local to Global” approach to help close health equity gaps across North Carolina. To address global health needs that exist stateside, UNC Ophthalmology provides uncompensated ophthalmologic services at a student-run clinic facilitated by the UNC School of Medicine (SOM).
At the UNC SOM-run Student Health Action Coalition-Ophthalmology Clinic (SHAC-Ophtho), rotating UNC Ophthalmology residents provide free basic ophthalmologic screenings to uninsured North Carolinians who have unmet needs for quality eye care. Our residents additionally teach UNC SOM students volunteering at SHAC-Ophtho how to take an ophthalmic history and perform a complete eye exam.
Higher visual acuity needs identified through SHAC-Ophtho screenings contribute to the high level of uncompensated care referrals to UNC Kittner Eye Center and UNC Ophthalmology’s clinical services at UNC Hospitals Hillsborough campus. UNC Ophthalmology’s community-based referral partnership with Piedmont Health additionally reaches uninsured North Carolinians who rely upon the State of North Carolina flagship hospital for higher visual acuity care.
Our department’s coverage of diabetic eye exams, cataract, glaucoma and vitreoretinal evaluations, and other corrective ocular care is above the rates of uncompensated care across UNC SOM departments, as well as ophthalmology departments nationwide.