Eritrea: The only African country Producing Intraocular Lenses
As 600,000 Africans goes blind every year as a result of Cataract, demands for intraocular lenses produced by the only Intraocular Lens Laboratory on the African continent shows a significant increase.
Established by world’s renowned Australian Ophthalmologist, the Eritrea based Fred Hollows Intraocular Laboratory (IOL) so far exports over 2.2 million intraocular lenses to more than 50 countries in Asia, Africa, Oceania and Europe ever since its inception in 1994.
By applying international standard work procedures and state-of-the-art equipment, the plant has reached to a capacity of producing 200,000 intraocular lenses annually to satisfy the year-to-year growing demands.
The general manager of the plant, Mr. Mengisteab Tewoldeberhan, indicated that their products are getting increasingly competitive and in great demand on the international market.
Over 83% of the total production has been exported to Asian countries, the Far East, Vietnam, Australia and Europe; 12% to African countries and 5% to the local markets at a price as low as US $8.
The Fred Hollows Intraocular Lens Laboratory (IOL) has received a number of quality and excellence certificates from standardization bodies in UK and USA.
To cope with the advances in the field of Ophthalmology, the plant has introduced additional state-of-the-art equipment to start producing flexible intraocular lenses that are also in great demand at global level.
The plant is also offering periodical trainings aimed at upgrading the capacity of its staff members. The necessary study has also been finalized to start producing eye drop in the Laboratory, Mengisteab added.
Prof. Fred Hollows was a friend of Eritrea since the days of the armed struggle for independence.
He spent the last years of his life working to restore sights in Eritrea. Through his organisation, the Fred Hollows Foundation, Eritrea has been named as a country one can restore his sight at under US $25 only.
Hollows died in 1993, one year before his Laboratory in Eritrea begins production. After giving a state funeral service in Sydney, the Australian government later decided to feature Hollows picture on the one dollar coin as part of the Inspirational Australians Series.
The Fred Hollows IOL Laboratory was established in Asmara in 1994 with the financial and technical support provided by the Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia with the express intention of providing high quality affordable Intra- Ocular Lenses (IOLs) for use in extra-capsular cataract extraction and lens replacement surgery.
Since entering into commercial operations in 1995, the Laboratory has exported millions of IOLs to Asian, European and African countries. The state of the art IOLs produced by Fred Hollows Laboratory have been used throughout the world and also been tasted by leading international authorities in ophthalmology.
The Laboratory is certified by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) for compliance with the highest Standards of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in manufacturing devices and is proud holder of quality certificates: ISO 13485, ISO 9001& MDD 93/42/EEC and CE Mark from SGS.
What the Doctors Say:
Since entering commercial operations in 1995, the Lab has exported hundreds of thousands of IOLs. They have been used throughout the world and also been tested by leading international authorities in ophthalmology. Here is what some of them have to say:
“You have chosen a design which we think is absolutely state of the art. In terms of surface finish and general SEM appearance, I have never seen better lens manufacture”
Professor David J Apple, MD-Professor & Chairman, Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of South Carolina, USA, Director, WHO Collaborative Center for the prevention of Blindness
“Since the last couple of years, my colleagues and I have been using many different types of IOLs from Germany, England, America, France & India. Now I can say that the Fred Hollows lens is one of the best lenses I have used. The Physical and optical specifications of the lens are magnificent” Dr. Pham Binh, Director Da Nang Ophthalmology Center, Vietnam
“Having used the Fred Hollows lens in an eye camp in Tibet, I would put one in my eye” Dr. Marty Spencer, MD-SEVA Foundation, Canada; Inventor of the Spencer Single-Piece Pc-IOL design
“The design of the lens is perfect-absolutely perfect. It goes in like a dream. I feel safe with the Fred Hollows lens. It is absolutely fantastic lens that I would be happy to use for any extra-capsular surgery” Dr. Geoff Tabin, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, University Hospital, Burlington, Vermont, USA.
“The finish of the lens surface is good and power is correct. Insertion was done very easily and smoothly”
Dr. Akira Momos, Director, Institute of Clinical Ophthalmology, Japan.