Interview with Dr. Ucheoma Udoha, founder of CrispVision

Dr. Ucheoma Udoha is a Nigerian doctor. She is passionate about ending preventable blindness, by providing eyecare solutions to people in underserved communities. That’s why she launched CrispVision.

Right for Education met Ucheoma at WISH, where she was nominated as a WISH Young Innovator 2018, and was presenting CrispVision’s new eye test kits. The kits can be used by anybody to test their vision, they are reusable, and cost only $4.

INTERVIEW 

What inspired you to start CrispVision?

In 2013, while I was working in a private eye clinic, I met a young lady who had lost almost all of her vision. She has a corneal ulcer, and it was so severe that I couldn’t help her much. I asked her why she didn’t seek help earlier, and she said she lived in a rural area and she hadn’t known where to go. That’s what inspired me to start CrispVision. We have a mobile eye clinic that travels to underserved communities, like the community where that woman lived.

Are there any other patients who have particularly inspired you?

Yes. In 2016, a woman came to our mobile eye clinic. She was about 45 years old, and she came in to check her vision. She knew that her vision had been getting worse, but she didn’t realise just how bad it was. When we asked her to close one eye, she started crying, because she suddenly realised that she was almost blind in the other eye. The test results showed that she had lost almost all of her vision in one eye, and 60% of vision in the other one. That’s what inspired me to developed the CrispVision eye test kits. We can’t reach everyone with the mobile clinic, but using the Eye Test Kits anyone can test their own vision in their home. Knowing that your vision is getting worse is the first step to accessing treatment.

Tell us about the Eye Test Kits.

The kit contains eye charts to test vision, and a measuring rope to measure the distance you must sit from the chart. The kit is completely reusable, and comes with instructions.

The kits also contain glasses. Many people in rural communities are elderly (as the younger ones are in the cities). For elderly people the problem is often that they cannot do their near work easily. They cannot sew, they cannot read their bibles. So we include glasses in the kits which they can use to correct their vision.

Finally, the kits contain CrispVision’s contact information. From my experience, many people do not know how to access eye care. But with the kit, they can just contact us, and we can help them to find their nearest health centre.

Would you be able to send the kit to one community, or one school, and have them all test their eyes at once?

Yes exactly. We have already done that in more than 80 communities. It takes just a few minutes for each person to check their vision, and the kits can be reused again and again.

What does the future hold for CrispVision?

First, we are looking to secure funding, so we can distribute our kits for free to other communities in Africa. We are also developing a website, so we can sell the kits to people outside of Nigeria.

We are also training community health workers – so far we have trained 64 – who will act as our foot-soldiers and allow us to reach even more people.

What piece of advice would you give to a young innovator in Africa who has an idea but doesn’t know how to make it a reality?

Prototype. The first thing you have to do is prototype. The finished eye test kit is very different from how it was at the beginning. At first it looked so raw [laughs]. How did I improve it? I sent it out to get feedback. I asked people ‘would you buy this, to check your eyes?’. I asked a lot of people. Some of the people I asked were my friends, but some were just strangers I bumped in to. The idea was in my head every single minute of every day, like it couldn’t get out.

Is there anyone who has particularly inspired you or who has helped you along the way?

A lot of people inspired me. When I started CrispVision, I needed to find a mentor – someone who worked in my field – to guide me. I chose him randomly! I didn’t know him really, so I just walked up to him, and said “This is where I am. I don’t know exactly where I want to be, but how do I start moving?”.

I was also inspired by Adepeju Jaiyeoba. She was at WISH in 2015, showcasing her ‘Mothers Delivery Kit’. The kit contains supplies that are needed for delivering a baby. They are sterile, to reduce the risk of infection to the mother and the baby. That was one of the reasons that I applied to WISH.

HOW TO CONTACT CRISPVISION

If you live in Nigeria, you can buy a Crispvision eye kit to test your vision!

You can buy the kits directly from either of the Crispvision Eye clinics:

  • Crispvision Eye Clinic, 23B Uqua Road. Eket- 08080112443
  • Crispvision Eye Clinic, 308 Oron Road. Oron- 09065177649.

Or they can send the kits to any location within Nigeria

WANT TO KNOW MORE, OR BUY A KIT?

Contact CrispVision on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CrispVisionEyeClinic/ or on Twitter at @Crispvision1

This article is part of Eye Health Week at Right for Education

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