- Some 120 residents of St. James have benefited from free cataract surgeries performed by ophthalmologists attached to Canada Vision Care (CVC) and the United States-based Hawaiian Eye Foundation.
- The surgeries were conducted last month at the Community Vision Centre of Excellence Clinic at Albion Road, Montego Bay.
- The visit of the 18-member medical team was made possible through partnership between the international charities and the Lions Club of Montego Bay.
Some 120 residents of St. James have benefited from free cataract surgeries performed by ophthalmologists attached to Canada Vision Care (CVC) and the United States-based Hawaiian Eye Foundation.
The surgeries were conducted last month at the Community Vision Centre of Excellence Clinic at Albion Road, Montego Bay.
The visit of the 18-member medical team was made possible through partnership between the international charities and the Lions Club of Montego Bay.
Pre and post-screening care were provided by local nurses and representatives from Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH).
Several patients with vision impairment also received reading glasses, and bifocal and progressive lenses.
President of the Lions Club of Montego Bay, O’Neil Daley, told JIS News that the mission was in keeping with the club’s mandate to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
“It is one of the mandates of Lions Club International’s SightFirst programme… to improve the sight of persons and provide quality eye care,” he noted.
He explained that the club has been working with local partners, including the Ministry of Health & Wellness to identify individuals with the greatest need.
Director at the Community Vision Centre of Excellence Clinic, and founding member of Canada Vision Care, Dr. Gerry Leinweber, said that the charity has been working with Lions clubs across Jamaica since 1981, to meet the eye care needs of underserved persons.
“Since that time, we [have] done over a million eye exams and provided vision care,” he told JIS News.
Dr. Leinweber, who is an Optometrist, said that focus is being placed on St. James to help alleviate the strain on the Cornwall Regional Hospital that is undergoing renovation.
As such, the doctors will be back in November to perform additional surgeries at the Community Vision Centre of Excellence Clinic.
Cataract surgeon, Ophthalmologist and President of the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, Dr. Jeff Rutgard, said it is heartening to see the number of lives touched.
He noted that since 1984, the non-profit organisation has been dedicated to promoting the preservation, restoration, and improvement of vision throughout the Pacific Basin and beyond.
“We care about the community, we care about the individuals in particular and we are here (in Jamaica) to reach out and help… So what is important to me is compassionate loving care for the patient,” Dr. Rutgard said.
“We are working as a partner with Jamaica and our goal is to work with the nurses and doctors here because we want to help those who are poor or disadvantaged get the vision that they need to get back to their normal lives,” he added, noting that a 20-minute cataract surgery will prevent someone with the condition from going blind.
In the meantime, optometry intern and VOSH volunteer, Stephanie Schumacher, told JIS News that she was pleased to have been part of the medical mission and give back to the less fortunate.
“We (VOSH volunteers) have been taking the patients through primary care and doing initial assessment. Glaucoma is a really common disease here in Jamaica, so identifying glaucoma is one of those areas where we can really help in prescribing eye drops and lower people’s intraocular pressure and preserve vision,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Winsome Coote from Paradise Norwood told JIS News that her vision was saved thanks to the surgery she received.
She had high praises for the overseas medical team and local volunteers. “The doctors were quite nice and gentle. The people that work here (Community Vision Centre of Excellence Clinic) hold your hand,” she noted.
Sixty-five-year- old Lynford Stevens of Catadupa also expressed gratitude.
Mr. Stevens told JIS News that he had been experiencing challenges with his vision for two years due to cataract and started attending the Community Vision Centre of Excellence Clinic last November.
“I got a pair of glasses and I have been using it,” he said, noting that the surgery has improved his sight.