2017 EYE CAMPAIGN
Our team of eye specialists overcome torrential rain and record floods to bring eye care to rural patients
Eye Clinic patients gather beneath baobab
In early 2017,our eye team, with members from Seattle, Chicago, New York, Raleigh, Salt Lake City and Knoxville arrived in Victoria Falls to begin a mammoth series of eye clinics and surgery in Northern Matabeleland. The team was supplied with over 5000 pairs of donated spectacles and a comprehensive supply of donated eye medication from industry sponsors. They began their first week working out of Hwange in the Eastern half of Matabeleland North and travelling daily to clinics held in the most remote north eastern rural areas of Northern Matabeleland.
Each day, with torrential rain falling from a tropical cyclone, the team forded flooded rivers to reach the clinics…. some located as far North as the Zambezi River. Despite the conditions the clinics were still packed with patients some of whom had walked twenty miles to see the eye doctors and receive treatment.
At the clinics the team was able to assess and triage patients into groups with medical eye disease, those requiring glasses and those with blindness caused by cataracts. They were equipped with an instrument called a refractometer that is able to precisely specify the prescription glasses the patients need by bouncing a beam of light off the back of the patient’s eye. The refractometer data downloaded into a laptop that then searched the database of the more than 5000 spectacles the team had brought with them and picked the precise spectacles to correct the patient’s vision. Patients diagnosed with blindness caused by cataracts were also assessed by the team and scheduled for surgery to cure their blindness in Bulawayo in the following week.
Himalayan Cataract Surgeons restore sight to 108 blind patients in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls
In the second week, eye surgeons Dr Huck Holz MD and Dr Eric Hansen MD of the Himalayan Cataract Project traveled to Bulawayo. They stayed at the St Philip’s Nursing School next to the Mater Dei Hospital and, whilst they awaited the arrival of the blind patients from Hwange, were able to teach and give lectures to young residents in the ophthalmology department of United Bulawayo Hospitals.
The 68 blind patients from the remote rural Hwange clinics were picked up at 4:00 am by a small bus that was able to negotiate the remote rural roads and then, once they reached the main Hwange-Bulawayo road, transferred to a larger bus and traveled to Bulawayo where they stayed at St Philips. In Bulawayo, the patients were given accommodation and meals at St Philips Nursing School by the Mater Dei Hospital Nursing Staff. The Rotary Club of Bulawayo South rendered invaluable assistance in organizing the transport of surgical supplies, and movement and meals of the surgical team.
The first night the patients underwent examination of their eyes to choose the specific strength of implated lens for the next days surgery.
Surgery the next day was performed by eye surgeons Dr Holz MD, Dr Hansen MD and Dr Beaty MD with assistance from trainee registrar Dr Gilbert Moyo MBChB. Dr Moyo received instruction in the latest advances in small incision cataract surgery techniques from the US surgeons.
After spending their second night at St Philip’s, the patients had their bandages removed the next morning. We have pasted some of the photos of the incredibly moving responses of the patients after the badages are removed and they realise they or their children can see again. After their post- surgical instructions were given, they boarded the bus to return to their villages for follow up by the rural eye nurse.The surgical team then traveled by road to Victoria Falls where they joined up with Dr Lisa Frederickson OD and Dr Cindy Hung OD, Gilbert Hung Tim Miller OD and volunteer Rotarian Keith Holshausen and completed another full day of eye surgery at Victoria Falls Hospital …operating on an additional blind 40 patients identified by Dr Frederickson’s team with surgically correctable blindness. These patients underwent surgery at Victoria Falls hospital for cataract removal and lens implantation…thanks to Dr Wisdom Kuraone, MBChB, the nursing staff of the Victoria Falls Hospital operating room and emergency room and Latelang Ndlovu for giving such excellent support to our surgical team.
35v yr old lady
-blind for ten years
-she has three children
hugs Yona in joy after surgery when she realises she will be able to see her kids again
Teenager with her grandmother,who she grew up taking care of, after they both realize she can see again
Dr Hung takes a moment to chat with an older clinic patient
Dr Frederickson uses the refractometer to choose a child's glasses
Tim places drops in a young patient's eyes before he is examined
Keith encourages young child to " look at the flower" while he examines his eyes