Eye Matters
February 12, 2010
SEE International and their contribution to SVG!

Dear Readers

Last week I introduced you the wonderful organization called Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International and their contribution to the prevention and elimination of Blindness world wide.

In their last annual report SEE International supported over 129 teams ( the figures are much higher now) and performed over 10,000 sight restoring surgeries (figures are also higher now) around the world.{{more}}

This accomplishment reflects the commitment and generosity of SEE’s volunteers, affiliated eye surgeon and donors. This is the result of the coordinated efforts of many kind spirited human beings who recognize the value of giving.

I am proud of the work SEE international does in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I am especially proud to serve both as a Host ophthalmologist and also as an affiliate Surgeon for this great organization. I was fortunate to travel to Honduras in 2008 to do the same thing the Volunteer American and Cuban Doctors do in SVG. It was an opportunity to both give service and also to learn new skills at the same time, because apart from restoring sight the exchange of ideas between affiliate surgeons and volunteers is priceless.

SEE exists to connect eye surgeons inspired to give their skills freely towards curing blindness in developing countries with the patients that need them. This organization is a member of vision 2020, an initiative launched by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the prevention of Blindness.

Vision 2020’s aim is to eliminate the causes of preventable blindness worldwide by the year 2020.

The Milton Cato Memorial Hospital has been a great benefactor of SEE International’s services.

Over the last 10 years Dr Kevin Treacy, also a SEE international affiliate surgeon, has been spearheading the collaboration of teams from the US to visit SVG on a regular basis. Outreach screenings are done and surgeries performed at the MCMH. As of April 2009 the Beachmont Eye Institute has also undertaken to ease the surgical backlog by offering its facilities to indigent patients, with the assistance of SEE international’s affiliate surgeons.

Dr Kim Bass, Dr Tom Cavin and myself operated on several patients with supplies from SEE international at The Beachmont Surgical Center.

In January of this year Dr. Treacy visited with 9 other volunteers. They performed over 400 eye examinations, mostly on diabetics. Over 65 laser surgeries were performed and 11 cataract surgeries.

Putting a dollar cost to the value they provide . In US Medicare standards an eye exam costs roughly $US60/exam ($24,000) and the Laser Surgeries, Cataract surgeries and supplies are valued by Medicare standards at about US$50,000.

If one adds airfare, lodging and meals (about US$2000) for each of 10 volunteers. (US20,000), their donated time( as all these surgeons normally work in a private capacity) and donated facility fees, the total value would be in excess of $100,000 US per trip. With several trips a year the overall value is in excess of US$1 million

I thank the Ministry of Health for participating in and facilitating this project and for their openness to such a private -public partnership concept. We hope to have one US team on a regular basis based at the Beachmont Eye Institute to ease congestion for indigent patients at the hospital. We are hoping to formalize these arrangements as soon as possible.

SEE International also holds courses aimed at improving ophthalmic skills.

Visit SEE online at http://www.seeintl.org to find out more about their programs and how you can be a partner in the struggle against curable blindness around the world.

Have a great weekend.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: [email protected]

Tel: 784 456-1210