Monday, July 27, 2015

HEALTH - Flying Eye Hospital

"Flying Eye Hospital delivers new outlooks to patients around the world" PBS NewsHour 7/20/2015


SUMMARY:  Since 1982, the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital has traveled from country to country, performing surgeries and training local medical staff.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro meets up with the flying hospital in Vietnam.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO (NewsHour):  So, well before the plane arrives, Orbis has alerted local eye care providers, who in turn alert likely patients.

For 8-year-old Thuy, it’s a rare chance at surgery for her strabismus, or lazy eye.

WOMAN (through interpreter):  We took her to see the doctor four years ago.

MAN (through interpreter):  We were afraid to even ask how much it would cost.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Thuy’s father is disabled.  Her mother earns less than $2 a day gathering and selling recyclables.

CHILD (through interpreter):  I hope the doctors can help me.  I don’t want to be cross-eyed anymore.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Strabismus is common, affecting perhaps 4 percent of all people.  Patients can lose sight in the wayward eye, and depth perception.  There also are painful psychosocial effects, says Dr. O’Hara.

DR. MARY O’HARA:  We’re keyed to be attracted to symmetry and repulsed by asymmetry on a very subconscious level.  And people who have crooked eyes tend to be down-rated in society.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Just because of the appearance of that person.

DR. MARY O’HARA:  Right.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Six-year-old Van doesn’t seem affected by social stigma, at least not yet.

MAN (through interpreter):  Her life is pretty normal.  She gets teased a bit, but her life is pretty normal.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Van’s parents also struggle to make ends meet and cannot afford surgery.

MAN (through interpreter):  We had been to a doctor three years ago.  They said wait for a charity group to come.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  The next day, they and others gathered at the local eye hospital for screening.  About 75 patients are being screened here at the local hospital.  Some 45 will be chosen for surgery or laser treatment, based on a variety of criteria.  They need to be particularly good teachable cases.  Young patients with good prognoses have priority, as do those in danger of losing their sight altogether.

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