In support of the Myanmar Eye Care Program
For the fourth time since 2011 my husband and I travelled to Mandalay / Myanmar in January 2015 during my annual leave to help. Help to fight blindness by performing cataract surgery, transferring knowledge to local staff and doctors to improve eye care service. This work has been a very rewarding part of my engagement as an ophthalmologist and helped many impoverished people to regain their eyesight. My main involvement takes place in a busy monastic educational setup Phaung Daw Oo (PDO) High School led by Sayadaw U Nayaka in Mandalay. The school clinic at PDO was founded in 2003 by the German NGO ‘Foerderverein Myanmar’. Each year together with Australian ophthalmologists I return for a week of small incision cataract surgery. Myanmar still has a high rate of blindness to larger extend (> 60%) caused by treatable Cataract. A fairly simple procedure not requiring expensive equipment can restore the eyesight of an effected person.
Though highly sophisticated Phacoemulsification for Cataract removal is available in Myanmar the cost involved is too high for the majority of patients and often also not suitable in advanced cases.
It is always a huge joy to lift the eye pad of the patient in the morning after surgery and see the change of a person seeing again clearer and brighter especially if that one has been blind before.
Besides cataracts also retinal diseases are common in Myanmar responsible for around 15% of blindness. More than in cataracts a timely treatment is necessary to avoid incurable blindness. Many eye clinics in Myanmar are not able to treat these patients sufficiently due to lack of equipment and know how. At the time being only two eye clinics in the entire Myanmar (60 Million people) perform vitreoretinal surgery permanently, a few monastic clinics offer temporary service.
Since a couple of years the Myanmar Eye Care Program also provides training and treatment of patients with vitreoretinal diseases. A center has been established at Wachet Jivitadana Sangha Hospital – here a team of specialists visits several times a year to help those patients in need. Losing eyesight due to retinal detachment, vitreous hemorrhage or diabetic retinopathy is often devastating and if not treated quickly often causes irreversible blindness. This year I was for the first time also sharing my skills in vitreoretinal surgery with local doctors and nurses. Together we could provide treatment for about 25 patients. The setup involved is cost intensive and requires fine skills and dedication. Prof. Yee Yee Aung from Mandalay Eye Hospital has been very interested and eager to provide a reliable and permanent setup also at her teaching hospital in Mandalay. I tried to support her there as well, with the help of a rented wide angle viewing system (BIOM – Oculus GmbH), surgical instrument donation by Geuder / Germany and donation of disposables by B+L / Germany we could use local facilities for vitreoretinal surgery. She as a very skilled surgeon would wish to continue that service but at the moment has no means of purchasing the necessary wide angle viewing system. Any way to assist her in obtaining a BIOM would be very much appreciated.