The Eye Corps Approach

Eye Corps believes that partnership with the local community is the only path to sustainability. Our mandate is therefore advanced by identifying in- country surgeons who are committed to serving their community. We then work with them by providing sustainable resources which include:

  • Training to enable the surgeon to provide quality care
  • Equipment through long-term lease
  • Trained nurses and clinical assistants
  • Stipends to ensure that the practice has a focus on those who could not otherwise obtain quality care
  • Continued education and postgraduate training
  • Postgraduate mentorship

Equipment Barriers
The equipment cost for a basic eye clinic and operating room is over 175,000 US dollars, which is beyond the means of the average ophthalmic surgeon in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, Eye Corps provides long-term loans of microscopes, slit lamps, and other surgical equipment to enable surgeons to perform their jobs. In return, each surgeon selected by Eye Corps must commit to serving the indigenous and must honor that commitment in order to maintain ownership of the equipment.

Continuing Education
Eye Corps evaluates each surgeon in order to identify their strengths and weaknesses and designs a training program to improve upon their surgical skills, clinical acumen, and leadership. Each training program is tailored to the needs of that particular surgeon.

Eye Corps provides nurses with a three-month in-country training at either Mvumi University or Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center. This program is designed to provide the knowledge and skills to screen ophthalmic patients, assist in surgery, and provide post-op care.

Eye Corps partners with, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Eye Department) which is the leading postgraduate Master of Medicine, Ophthalmology program in Tanzania, as well as the Tanzania Ophthalmology Society, Dodoma Benjamin Makapa University and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center to provide ongoing educational opportunities to improve the quality of care.


Young ophthalmologists graduating from the ophthalmology residency program in Tanzania are eager to launch careers and work independently. Like all graduates, their enthusiasm is combined with the anxiety of a novice, which is appropriate; generally speaking, in-country training programs fall short of producing expert surgeons.

Most young ophthalmologists are graduating with limited surgical experience due to the absence of a training lab and little surgical and clinical teaching. Currently, the ratio of faculty members to residents is 4 to 32 with an estimated fifty percent of postgraduates not actively operating. As a result, current young ophthalmologists need further training before practicing without supervision.

In a traditional residency environment, most young ophthalmologists start their careers by partnering with a more experienced ophthalmologist in an established practice. Graduates benefit from the senior ophthalmologist’s guidance while continuing to develop their diagnostic and judgment skills. Another advantage of joining an established practice is that the office and surgical suite are up and running with all the necessary equipment. The experience for Tanzanian postgraduates is quite different.

Newly graduated ophthalmologists are being placed by the Tanzanian government in regional hospitals located in regions of great need. However, with a high rural population, these regions are often quite remote and the hospitals are lacking necessary ophthalmic equipment and sup-plies. The graduate is then faced with the task of building an ophthalmic clinic with no re-sources, little funds and limited surgical training.

This challenge is exasperated as the new graduate is faced with complex and challenging surgical cases, coupled with poor surgical skill and a lack of mentorship by senior ophthalmic professionals. As a result, it is estimated that nearly half of recent graduates are not operating in the hospitals they have been assigned to.

Eye Corps Mentorship Program
The Eye Corps Mentorship Program is the result of a collaboration between MUHAS, Eye Corps, and the Tanzania Ministry of Health. It is designed to bridge the graduates’ challenging transition to solo practice by combining training and outreach. The goal is to increase patient care in a remote area while training the newly graduated surgeon in skills necessary to succeed.

The graduate assigned to a regional clinic is partnered with two vetted mentors; one Tanzanian ophthalmologist and one US-trained surgeon. Our mentors come to the program with excellent surgical skills and clinical judgment. Eye Corps equips the practice and facilitates several teaching visits by Eye Corp-trained surgeons.

The mentorship program consists of weekly discussions on diagnostic issues, potential surgical cases, and outreach organization and management. In addition, the Tanzanian mentor travels to the remote region every other month for a 1–2-week period. During this time, they will teach the junior surgeon and perform surgery on more complex cases.

As the new graduate proceeds through the program, they are encouraged to become mentors themselves. Through their experience in the program, the graduates are given the responsibility of teaching postgraduate students from the MUHAS residency program. By design, the residents rotate through the regional clinics for periods of two weeks to one month. During these periods, peer teaching takes place while providing opportunities for the graduate to mentor the resident.

This multi-level training model creates an esprit de corps which motivates all parties to value education as a skill. This model of mentorship has attracted much interest in the ophthalmic community and we have many senior ophthalmologists interested in participating.

The primary goals of this model of mentorship are:

  1. Bringing eye care to regions that have none.
  2. Establishing a thriving clinic with surgical facilities.
  3. Facilitating communication between the rural clinic and the tertiary care facility.
  4. Providing an excellent opportunity for trained US doctors to share knowledge where it is needed.
  5. Mentoring novice surgeons to become confident and efficient surgeons.
  6. Standardization of training.
  7. Creating esprit de corps in the ophthalmic community.