I recently came back from a week long trip to Haiti. I was hoping to post blogs while I was there but due to spotty electricity and extremely slow internet, I did not get a chance to. On Sunday May 22, we landed in Port Au Prince with 4 optometrists and 14 volunteers (techs, students, opticians). We were greeted by a Haitian ophthalmologist name Dr. Pierre-Yves DeCastro. He was going to be working with us for the week seeing all our cataract patients. A picture of our team (including the Haitian volunteers and translators) is below:
From the airport, we travelled 2 hours up the west coast to a city called Pont Sonde, population 10,000 but with a metropolitan area of ~40,000. In the entire country of Haiti (pop 10 million), there are only 64 ophthalmologists and 2 optometrists. As you can imagine, there is a great need for eye care and eye health. Over the next 5 days, we saw over 1400 people and gave glasses, sunglasses, glaucoma medications, antibiotics, and antivirals to these patients. This trip was special to me because for the first time, we worked with a surgeon who provided free cataract surgery to patients. The surgery was free for patients, but we paid the ophthalmologist $50 a surgery. This would normally cost about $4000 in the USA. I am not talking about the patients who had 20/40 visual acuity and needed surgery to drive (like in the USA). I am talking about the patients who have light perception vision and cannot even see the "Big E" on the letter chart. In my next blog, I will talk about some of my most memorable patients.