Premier Eye Care in Indonesia: The Jakarta Eye Center

Tjahjono D. Gondhowiardjo, MD, is the Director of Corporate Development and Education at Jakarta Eye Center (PT Nitrasanata Dharma), practicing since 1992 after completing his PhD from the University of Amsterdam. Dr. Tjahjono has played a major role in the development and progress of Indonesian ophthalmology within the last decade; serving as the Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Medical Faculty of University of Indonesia-Cipto Mangunkusumo National Hospital (1997-2004); President of the Indonesian Ophthalmologist Association (2003-2010); Chairman of the Indonesian Committee of Prevention of Blindness (2004-2007); and Vice Chairman/Acting Chairman of Indonesian Eye Bank (2005-2010). We meet to discuss eye health in Indonesia.

Can you please tell us when Jakarta Eye Center (JEC) was established and for what reason?

We started as the Klinik Mata Jakarta (Jakarta Eye Clinic), which was established on 1 February 1984 by the late Dr. Djoko Sarwono, Dr. Darwan Purba, the late Professor Istiantoro and Dr. Bondan Haryono. The clinic grew and transformed into an eye hospital (Jakarta Eye Center) in 1992. It is the vision of our founders to possess proven cutting-edge technologies (diagnostic and intervention instruments) to provide the best eye care for our patients. Our founders had a vision that all ophthalmologists working in our hospitals should also become shareholders and be willing to work hard in order to maintain the high standards of eye care, which could make our institution stand the tests of time.

What services in particular do you provide that differentiate JEC from other eye specialist clinics?

From the commencement of the Eye Center we decided to be an institution which would deliver comprehensive sub-specialist eye care services; therefore any ophthalmologist in our hospitals must have had sub-fellowships (mostly abroad) and be competent in a specific knowledge and skill. Up to now, many of us are actually the prominent persons in our fields amongst the Indonesian Ophthalmologist Society, ASEAN or Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology peer groups. Our leading expertise, which is complementary to our intentions in possessing the most current technologies, make us pioneers in many aspects in eye intervention services in Indonesia, such as vitrectomy, phacoemulsification cataract surgery, as well as bladeless cataract surgery, refractive surgery procedures (photorefractive keratectomy, LASIK), and children’s eye care.

Our passion to develop our professions to reach the global level is not merely for ourselves; we do disseminate and share with our colleagues by conducting the first nationwide fellowship programme in 1997, a biannual JEC International Meeting inviting many world-class speakers. Moreover, through our success, we are inspiring our colleagues in many others cities to build and develop eye clinics or hospitals.

We are the founding members of the ASEAN Association of Eye Hospitals (AAEH) and active members of the World Association of Eye Hospitals (WAEH). Our icon hospital, JEC at Kedoya, is the first and only Indonesian Eye Hospital which is accredited by the Joint Commission International – a US-based independent international hospital accreditation institution. Both JEC at Menteng and JEC at Kedoya have the highest levels of Hospital Accreditation (KARS) in Indonesia.

What is the competition like for eye specialist hospitals in Jakarta?

One of our missions is delivering internationally recognized clinical standards in patients care in order to be competitive in the coming ASEAN market, thus we always believe that our real competitors are Eye Clinics or Hospitals from neighbouring countries. Currently, we closely compare many aspects of clinical and management indicators either within AAEH and/or WAEH and are very proud that in many aspects, we are above average in most indicators. We are seeing other national eye clinics or hospitals as our sparring partners rather than as our competitors. In fact, we often collaborate with them to raise the level of Indonesian ophthalmology or eye service standards.

What eye diseases do you treat most often here in Indonesia?

Both JEC Menteng and JEC Kedoya are tertiary eye centres, which means that we can handle most eye problems here. While the newly opened JEC Cibubur is up-to-date with diagnostic equipment and office intervention devices, we can only do surgery under topical or local anaesthesia.

The most common eye diseases that we see are refraction errors either in children or adults, ocular surface infections, and ageing or degenerative diseases such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. The highest-ranking in intervention is cataract surgery, followed by LASIK, vitreo-retinal, glaucoma and oculo-plastic surgeries, and strabismus (squint) surgeries. We are the leading centre in many methods of corneal transplantations in Indonesia.

In your expert opinion, what is the biggest health problem when it comes to eyesight in Indonesia? Is it malnutrition?

Based on the Indonesian actual and projected population pyramids, cataracts and many other degenerative problems will still be the main issues, today and in the future. Like other developing countries, our heavily carbohydrate-based diets and unhealthy lifestyles, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration are predicted to be the main problems.

Does the eye care industry hold good business prospects in Indonesia? Is this industry expanding?

Based on the demographic pyramid, the projected national and regional economic growth, and the health expenditure forecast, we strongly believe that the health industry, as a human basic need, will continuously grow in Indonesia.

What do people normally expect when they seek quality eye care?

Nowadays, to provide quality eye care, you must have the most up-to-do technology and equipment, implement best practice standards, and deliver effective and timely services in a clean and convenient facility. However, the public’s perception of eye health is split into those who take it for granted and those who are very scared about their visual problems; Australian-based surveys indicate that cancer and blindness are the most frightening health problems.

Thus, we do believe that our patients need not only to be cured, but need anxiety relief as well. For these reasons, we try to deliver comprehensive and uncompromised care with a personalized approach. Moreover, in our hospitals our patients will have an opportunity to learn and understand many aspects of eye problems delivered by our Patient Education Officers, and we do hope that our patients will have a memorable experience when seeing or conducting measurement procedures or even surgical interventions such as LASIK. And lastly, we try hard to do our best to deliver value-based services.

Thank you, Dr. Tjahjono. For more information, please visit www.jec.co.id

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Angela is a freelance journalist and founder of Clean Up Jakarta Day. Outside the office she climbs mountains and dives oceans, all the while picking up litter.


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