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“A sanctuary for me”: Dr. Doaa Kotob’s Cybersight Journey

Since its launch in 2003, our award-winning online telemedicine platform, Cybersight, has equipped eye health teams around the world with the skills and know-how to fight eye conditions that cause avoidable blindness.

When the pandemic disrupted everything, our virtual platform quickly became a beacon of hope for eye health professionals everywhere keen to continue their ophthalmic education in the safest way possible. By the end of 2021, Cybersight had reached a remarkable 56,000 registered users representing more than 200 countries.

Below, Egypt-based ophthalmologist Dr. Doaa Kotob reflects on how her use of the telemedicine platform has enhanced her professional development, confidence and whetted her appetite in the pursuit of formal training and sub-specialization as a pediatric ophthalmologist when safe to do so again.

Dr. Kotob’s Medical Background

Dr. Doaa Kotob, who lives in Egypt, has been making the most of Cybersight to help her pursue her dream career in pediatric ophthalmology.

Dr. Kotob is an ophthalmologist in private practice in Nasser, a small town close to Beni Suef in Egypt and around a two-hour drive from Cairo. She sees around 5,000 patients a year. She graduated in 2008 as a pediatric medical specialist, and after ten years in pediatric internal medicine, she wants to sub-specialize in pediatric ophthalmology.

As a Fellow of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and a member of the Royal College of Surgery in Edinburgh, she plans to apply for a pediatric ophthalmology surgical fellowship there once restrictions from the pandemic are removed.

The State of Eye Health in Egypt

According to Dr. Kotob, major cities in Egypt, like Cairo and Alexandria, have large public health facilities, well-equipped with medical teams, specialized surgeons, technology, and equipment. Outside of these major cities however, the situation is very different. Trauma cases and certain surgeries cannot be managed locally and are typically referred to Cairo.

With less-resourced public health facilities in smaller towns across Egypt, there is more reliance on private healthcare centres. The level of care available in private sector eye healthcare in smaller and remote towns varies and often does not include specialized ophthalmology. “Away from Cairo, it’s more about general ophthalmology, not specialty areas,” Dr. Kotob says.

Dr. Kotob was previously working in a general hospital in Nasser as a registered pediatrician. She could not practice as an ophthalmologist given that she has not completed a formal surgical sub-specialization in ophthalmology. Unfazed by these limitations, Dr. Kotob has since made the most out of Cybersight to improve her knowledge ahead of applying for a surgical fellowship.

Getting the Most From Cybersight

Dr. Kotob was first introduced to Cybersight by a colleague. Initially, she says she felt like an “imposter” thinking that it was too late for her to pursue a sub-specialization. Her fears soon dissipated with Cybersight not only helping her to build her knowledge base but also boosting her confidence.

At the time of writing, Dr. Kotob has achieved five online course certificates, eight webinar certificates, and participated in 31 consults and one artificial intelligence consult through Cybersight.

Dr. Doaa Kotob

Cybersight Participant

I found Cyber­sight as a sanc­tu­ary for me as a begin­ner [in oph­thal­mol­o­gy]. They took all my ques­tions seri­ous­ly … Cyber­sight had an incred­i­bly pos­i­tive impact for me … per­son­al­ly, expe­ri­en­tial­ly, knowl­­edge- and confidence-wise.”

Now a huge advocate of the platform and its thorough and user-friendly content, she routinely recommends Cybersight to colleagues and refers them to specific webinars she has personally found useful.

Speaking highly about Cybersight’s mentors, our team of world-leading eye health sector experts known as Volunteer Faculty, Dr. Kotob told us: “They (Cybersight) are selecting the finest of all.” She recognizes that mentors come from different contexts and that disease profiles may differ by country. However, Dr. Kotob says that this does not distract from the value she gains from using Cybersight: “The pathway is universal—how to examine, how to document the proper investigation to reach the proper answer or the proper diagnosis.

Orbis volunteer eye doctor wearing headlamp

Cybersight's Consult Service allows access and dialogue with our Volunteer Faculty, some of the world's leading eye health experts, which has been particularly beneficial for Dr. Kotob.

Dr. Kotob gets the most out of the platform by running rare, complex, or difficult cases past mentors through Cybersight’s Consult Service, saying: “It is more like having a teacher in my back pocket.” Although the interaction with mentors is asynchronous, she enjoys the collaborative exchanges and appreciates the rapid feedback. She said: “It’s two-way interactions; it’s very different from any other sites I participated in … the consultation is not about giving orders—‘give the patient this or give the patient that’—it’s about a good discussion, or a two-person discussion, about a case, which is very, very helpful.

The consultation service has been a huge benefit for Dr. Kotob, improving both her screening practices and patient care. She adds: “The consultation made a huge difference for me in how to deal with the patient, how to take the decision to do surgery, or defer the surgery, and when to take this decision."

Cybersight’s Positive Impact

Since using Cybersight, Dr. Kotob, as well as the wider community, have felt the impact. Although she has not yet formally completed a sub-specialization in pediatric ophthalmology, she sees a lot of children with eye health issues. She recalled a case of pediatric exotropia (a type of strabismus or squint) in two children under a year old where she was concerned about doing the surgery “so early.” The advice she received from a Cybersight mentor was that it was possible to have the surgery done at that time. Thanks to this advice, she referred her patients for the sight-saving procedure.

Dr. Kotob is also involved in efforts to improve screening for retinopathy of prematurity, the leading cause of childhood blindness, sharing: “I have a small network of pediatric colleagues on retinopathy of prematurity, and we share information … on when to screen, how to screen and when to refer. Cybersight’s name is frequently mentioned in my group and other groups."

A three-year-old girl pictured with strabismus or crossed-eyes in Vietnam

Interactions with Volunteer Faculty through Cybersight gave gave Dr. Kotob the confidence to refer patients for strabismus surgery. Pictured: A child with strabismus during a Flying Eye Hospital project in Vietnam.

Another way in which Dr. Kotob uses the knowledge she gains through Cybersight to improve pediatric eye care in Egypt is by hosting formal lectures for ophthalmologists and pediatricians.

Thanks to Cybersight, Dr. Kotob has grown and developed her competence towards a sub-specialization in pediatric ophthalmology as far as she can within the constraints of her current family responsibility and the limitations imposed by the pandemic.

Having the flexibility to access Cybersight’s content at a convenient time at no cost and with little effort is a huge bonus for professional women with family commitments.

40 Years of Innovating to Fight Blindness

This year, we’re proud to celebrate 40 years of using innovations like Cybersight to fight avoidable blindness. By leveraging the platform to build the skills of eye health teams around the world, we’ve been able to change the way the world sees and transform lives in the process.

A huge thank-you to Dr. Kotob for dedicating her time to boosting her skills through Cybersight and improving the quality of eye health in her community. We wish her all the best in her future training!

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