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Utah Scholar Leads Eye Team to Tanzania

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2018

It has been said that one visit to Africa and the spirit of the place is forever in your heart. That is clearly the case for Bradley H. Jacobsen, MD.

Thanks to his ARCS Scholar Award and funding from the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, Jacobsen will lead a team to Mwanza, Tanzania, in November 2018. The team’s goal is to screen up to 1,000 rural and urban patients for age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other retinal diseases. Despite being the second largest city in Tanzania, Mwanza has only two ophthalmologists, and neither specializes in the retina.

“The closest retina services—equipment, lasers, and operating tools—are 300 to 600 miles away, so there is an opportunity to help establish services,” explained Jacobsen.

Jacobsen’s team will conduct visual acuity tests, measure pressure, dilate eyes, and take fundus photographs of each patient. Patients whose vision is less than 20/200 will be refracted and given a pair of free glasses. Back in the U.S., the team will analyze data and publish their findings. 

“I have a special place in my heart for Mwanza,” said Jacobsen, who spent summers there during medical school and founded the International Ultrasound Project—now an integrated course at a medical school in Mwanza that uses medical students to teach ultrasound and conduct research. “I fell in love with the people, country, and culture of Mwanza and wanted to do something to help with ophthalmology. With support from ARCS and Moran, I can.”

Bradley H. Jacobsen, MD leads team to Tanzania