Meet Dr. Lawrence and Dr. Murdoch

In pediatric ophthalmology, collaboration holds the promise of transforming lives. In a recent virtual meeting, Megan Webber, Co-Founder of KnowTheGlow, gave an impassioned presentation that resonated deeply with esteemed pediatric ophthalmologists Dr. Linda Lawrence and Dr. Ian Murdoch, who were introduced to Megan by Dr. Dupe Popoola, the backbone and astonishing pediatric ophthalmologist who helped create the first pediatric eye health center in Nigeria.  Dr. Linda Lawrence and Dr. Ian Murdoch have embarked on journeys fueled by compassion and innovation, striving to make a difference in the lives of children globally and their work has created the very foundation upon which so much awareness and collaborative solutions can now be built.

Dr. Linda Lawrence’s remarkable journey in pediatric eye care reflects her unwavering dedication to improving vision outcomes for children worldwide. Her extensive training and experience, predominantly in the United States with programs targeting children aged 0 to 3 and with the Kansas State School for the Blind have equipped her with a profound understanding of the complexities of pediatric ophthalmology. Dr. Lawrence’s journey took a significant turn in 1998 when she embarked on her first international trip to India, marking the beginning of her impactful work in developing countries. Her volunteer trips to Nigeria, along with her mentor, friend, and colleague, Dr Marilyn Miller, truly changed Dr. Lawrence’s motivation and focused her trajectory.  As a guiding force in Dr. Lawrence’s professional journey, Dr. Marilyn Miller’s wisdom and expertise have nurtured a generation of compassionate caregivers. Her enduring legacy underscores the transformative power of mentorship in advancing pediatric eye care.  Her encounter with Dr. Dupe Popoola at a childhood blindness prevention meeting proved to be a pivotal moment. Dr. Lawrence and Dr. Marilyn Miller were instrumental in guiding Dr. Popoola’s efforts in Nigeria. Together, they forged a formidable partnership, working tirelessly to address the challenges of childhood blindness and low vision.

Dr. Lawrence’s commitment to collaboration extends beyond borders. From her involvement in USAID programs to her consultations with the Kansas State School for the Blind, she continually seeks opportunities to share her knowledge and expertise. Her current endeavors in Haiti, Peru and India  underscore her dedication to reaching underserved communities and providing essential eye care services to those in need.

Dr. Ian Murdoch,  a glaucoma consultant surgeon at Moorfields Hospital in London, is eager to combat preventable blindness, particularly in West Africa,  and this passion has driven his groundbreaking initiatives in pediatric ophthalmology. His journey began in 1990 when his work on river blindness in Nigeria laid the foundation for his subsequent endeavors. He returned from that trip to pursue his residency and then trained as an epidemiologist to continue his public health initiatives in the developing world. Dr. Murdoch’s collaboration with Dr. Dupe Popoola in Nigeria exemplifies his commitment to capacity building and sustainable solutions. Dr. Murdoch strongly advocates for screening programs, believing it to be morally imperative to not only identify cases of preventable or curable blindness within a population but also to ensure the provision of necessary treatment. He emphasized to Megan the inherent connection between screening and treatment, asserting that there must be coordinated efforts. Moreover, Dr. Murdoch argues that delivering inadequate treatment undermines the credibility of eye services, potentially diminishing trust and participation in future screening initiatives.

Establishing surgical training centers in Ghana is a testament to Dr. Murdoch’s vision of empowering local healthcare professionals. His emphasis on creating tailored training programs and fostering a culture of continuous learning aims to revolutionize pediatric ophthalmology education in the region. The West African College of Surgeons training programme is aimed at ensuring that the next generation of ophthalmologists has the skills to tackle complex eye conditions.  

In the pursuit of eliminating preventable blindness in children, the resounding theme of collaboration emerges as the most promising path toward success. Dr. Linda Lawrence and Dr. Ian Murdoch stand as beacons of hope, demonstrating the transformative power of collective action in pediatric ophthalmology. As they forge partnerships and break new ground, their legacy of compassion and innovation will continue illuminating the path toward a brighter future for children worldwide.  At KTG we hope to find ways to work alongside them and to continue to bring awareness to their extraordinary efforts and global impact.