The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital returned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where ORBIS established its first country office, this October 2012. The program was based in Addis Ababa, the capital city, and aimed to promote quality ophthalmic care and improve subspecialty services through hands-on training and knowledge transfer.
The primary thematic component was based on pediatric ophthalmology, aiming to address gaps in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood blindness.
Soliyana Addis is a boisterous little girl of three-years-old who was diagnosed with congenital ptosis, or a droopy eyelid. She is the youngest in a family of five and likes to run and eat ice cream. When she grows up, she dreams of becoming a doctor – though she doesn't know what kind yet. Her mother, Ayda Teshome, and her father, Addis Alemu, traveled nearly 100 kilometers to take Soliyana to screening day at the Menelik II Hospital, where she was seen by Dr. Mark Cepela and selected as a teaching case for his hands-on trainees in oculoplastics. Her father is a resident general ophthalmologist and had heard about ORBIS through his profession.
Soliyana has congenital ptosis, or a drooping eyelid. She was born with this condition and has difficulty seeing in her left eye because her eyelid is lower than normal. Because of this, her eyelid covers a part of her pupil, which interferes with her ability to see regularly.
The surgery was straight forward. Dr. Cepela showed his hands-on trainees that Soliyana's levator palpebrae superioris muscle, which elevates the upper eyelid, needed to be shortened in order to pull her upper eyelid up to a normal position.
The surgery was completed successfully. Soliyana was sent home to recover with her family and came back later during the first week of the Flying Eye Hospital program for her post-operative check-up. Dr. Cepela checked her eyelid movement and announced that Soliyana's left upper eyelid should function normally, and that her congenital ptosis was no longer a problem she would have to deal with for the rest of her life.
"She'll dramatically be able to see better from the left eye, and the stigmatism of having a droopy lid in adults, and especially children, is significant for their self-esteem, so I think not only will she function better in terms of sight, but she should hopefully have a better self-image." said Dr Cepela.