NEW YORK, NY (December 2011) -- Ophthalmologists from The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary traveled to Pokhara, Nepal in November on a medical mission to teach Nepali ophthalmologists and perform eye surgery on disadvantaged patients.
The program was sponsored by Operation Restore Vision (ORV), a chapter of International Surgical Mission Support (ISMS) that was established in 2008 by Dr. Ronald C. Gentile, a retina specialist at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. ORV is dedicated to restore vision and prevent blindness in patients in underdeveloped countries and, equally important, to train local medical professionals.
The ORV group provided advanced treatment and specialty training at the Himalaya Eye Hospital in Pokhara. While the region itself is a tourist destination for adventurous trekkers because of its scenic mountain ranges, the hundreds of patients who came for services were children, mothers, orphans, widows, and refugees from some of the most impoverished areas of the world.
Clinic sessions were conducted and many cataract, cornea, glaucoma and retina operations were performed. The comprehensive scope of ophthalmic cases included pterygium excision, small incision cataract extraction, sutured intraocular lenses, complex trauma repair, glaucoma drainage implants and retinal detachment repair.
A conference organized by the Nepal Ministry of Science and Technology, held in conjunction with the ORV visit, drew hundreds of attendees and many Nepali ophthalmologists attended the lectures, seminars and workshops. Hands-on surgical demonstrations were conducted and were simulcast to a viewing center. The opening ceremony was covered by the local press and the Minister of Science and Technology gave the keynote lecture.
NYEE staff on the mission included, John Aljian, MD (cornea, cataracts, trauma); Nelson Co, CRNA (anesthesia), Ronald C. Gentile, MD (retina); Sanjay Kedhar, MD (uveitis, cornea), Chris Quaglio (medical photography) and Christopher Teng, MD (glaucoma). The team also included Scott Hamilton from The Explorers Club, who co-directed the Nepal mission with Dr. Gentile, anesthesiologist Julissa Cruz, MD, documentary filmmaker and photographer Ivanhoe Gadpaille, and surgery resident Maxim Spektor, DO.
In an earlier mission to Morocco in 2008, ISMS-ORV had the distinction of performing the first corneal transplants in Marrakech, laying the groundwork for establishment of the first and only eye bank in Morocco, and providing care for diverse patients, from infants with congenital glaucoma to older adults with retinal detachments. The next ISMS-ORV mission is planned for 2013 and will travel to Yerevan, Armenia.
It takes almost a village-size group of local as well as US staff and generous sponsors to bring advanced treatments to a remote mountain region.
The ORV team before one of several hectic days at the Himalayan Eye Hospital.
(From left to right:) Ivanhoe Gadpaille, filmmaker; Christopher Teng, MD; Ronald Gentile, MD; Sanjay Kedhar, MD; John Aljian, MD; Scott Hamilton, Explorers’ Club; Julissa Cruz, MD; Nelson Co, CRNA; Chris Quaglio; and Maxim Spektor, DO.
Smiles tell the story: Dr. Kedhar and Dr. Aljian successfully restored vision to a Buddhist monk.
More than 300 attended the opening ceremony of the conference given by Nepal Mininstry.
Dr. Teng, glaucoma specialist, with one of his many patients.
Dr. Aljian evaluates a child who has never seen an eye doctor before.
Medical photographer Chris Quaglio teaches imaging techniques.
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