Global citizen at heart and a successful entrepreneur, Dr Lynett Erita Masiwa graduated with a PhD degree in Optometry

Optometrist’s Study on Preventing Blindness Earns PhD

Zimbabwean-born Dr Lynett Erita Masiwa, a practising optometrist at Specsavers-Ireland and owner of a number of private practices in Zimbabwe graduated with a PhD in Optometry.

Her study, supervised by Professor Vanessa Raquel Moodley, resulted in a protocol that is key to preventing blindness through the early detection of keratoconus in low resource settings.

Keratoconus is an eye disease that affects the structure of the cornea, resulting in loss of vision. It occurs in approximately one in 2 000 individuals, typically beginning in puberty and progressing into the mid-30s. The early stages can be treated with glasses, but with progression of the disease into late childhood and early adulthood, corneal transplantation may be needed to restore sight.

Masiwa’s study is particularly important for low resource settings in Africa and beyond where early diagnosis and care are limited. She delivered a protocol for early detection which she plans to develop into an Application for global use. She commented, ‘I am an optometrist by profession and encountered too many children with advanced cases of keratoconus at first presentation. In advanced stages, very few treatment options are left, particularly in low resource settings so I sought to do something about it.’

Masiwa’s previous qualifications include bachelor’s degrees in Biomedical Sciences (Griffith Australia) and Optometry (Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland), a master’s degree in Clinical Optometry (Cardiff, Wales), and multiple post-graduate certificates in optometry and business from various universities. She said, ‘I am now a proud PhD graduate from my first African university!’

Masiwa raised two young children whilst studying towards her PhD, an eight-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. A global citizen at heart, she enjoys travelling and contributing to the world in her own way, and loves a good laugh and a glass of red wine.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal