– Andrew Bastawrous – „The world can be changed quickly with the help of easy access to basics like good eye health and vision“
The third and last interview of the „TEDxFrankfurt Interview with the speakers“ series shows how easily technology and digitalization can improve eye health in the 3rd World.
Andrew Bastawrous is an Ophthalmologist (Eye Surgeon) and Clinical Lecturer in International Eye Health based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Andrew has worked and undertaken research in Sierra Leone, Peru, Belize, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Uganda and has recently returned from living in Kenya where he was leading a major eye disease study and the development and testing of Peek, the Portable Eye Examination Kit, a new smartphone based tool to detect eye diseases in the worlds most challenging areas.
What inspired you to conduct research in the world’s most challenging areas and keep traveling those areas even after you finished your research?
Andrew: I understood at a very young age how important a good vision is when I got my fist glasses. I saw the world literally with new eyes! When I realized that countries with a high number of people suffering from eye diseases and blindness were at the same time low on doctors and financial means, I understood that support in these areas would have a high impact. I keep coming back because I don’t want to forget why I am doing this – it’s very easy to enjoy the benefits of a successful career, but it is not the reason why I wanted to become an eye surgeon.
What are the biggest challenges of your work?
Andrew: With so much technology around us and especially having a business that is very technology focused like Peek Vision, it is very important to keep in mind that it’s all about the people. No matter how good your technology may be, you have to focus on the advantages it holds for people using it and empower them instead of forcing them to adapt to new technologies. This is why our app comes with a simple 2-meter-band (the distance you need to keep between your eyes and the smartphone to assess your vision) – we couldn’t find an easier way to avoid measure errors due to wrong distance.
What would you like people to take away from your speech at the TEDxFFM?
Andrew: I think I would love people to be reminded of two things after listening to my story. The first one would be to recall that it’s ok to take risks (and fail!) if you believe in something, if it makes sense to you and your gut feeling says „go for it“. The second one would be the importance of awareness. Awareness opens up new opportunities and broadens your limited personal horizon.
Thank you for the interview, Andrew and best of luck in your future endeavors.
Andrew has been interviewed by Marina Zayats, Global Shapers Hub Frankfurt
Watch TEDxFFM Andrew Bastawrous‚ talk.