HRH The Countess of Wessex welcomed eye health leaders at St. James's Palace

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, Vice-Patron of The Trust, hosted a reception at St. James’s Palace to celebrate the achievements of global eye health leaders in their efforts to bring vision to everyone, everywhere. 

The reception will shine a light on the remarkable achievements of those involved in the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium, an international network of leading eye health centres of excellence spanning 47 Commonwealth countries that work in partnership to prevent avoidable vision loss. Since its establishment in 2015, the Consortium has doubled the number of eye doctors with a PhD in Africa, provided over 20,000 people with online training in eye health, and screened over 200,000 school children in Kenya using the smart-phone based vision testing tool, Peek.

HRH The Countess of Wessex also read out a special message from HM The Queen to the eye health experts working across the Commonwealth to save people’s sight which expressed her thanks on behalf of those whose sight they are seeking to save. 

Among the guests at the reception were the Chairman of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the UK’s Commonwealth Envoy Phillip Parham, High Commissioners and leading experts in eye health.

The Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium was established in 2015 by the Trust in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to bring quality eye care to those who need it. For much of the world good eye care is a scarce resource, and those in greatest need have the most limited access to screening and treatment. In the UK, there are 59 eye doctors per million people; in sub-Saharan Africa, where the need is greater, there is only 1 per million, and most are located in urban areas.

In the week leading up to the reception, 170 eye health professionals from the Consortium, representing 27 Commonwealth countries, came together for the first time in London to share their knowledge and experiences and look at how together they can expand their work and create a world which is free from avoidable blindness and poor vision. 

The Countess joined members of the Consortium at their meeting on Wednesday 27 March to hear about their work and how it is changing the way eye care is delivered across the Commonwealth. As part of the visit, The Countess tried her hand at simulated eye surgery, experiencing how eye health professionals involved in the Consortium are gaining access to vital new skills.