Foundation of the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology
The Foundation of the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support ophthalmic humanitarian service throughout the world.
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The joy beaming from their faces is what makes trips like this so rewarding!
Sean - Colombia
I would like to thank the Foundation of the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology for their generous support, which allowed me to participate in an ophthalmology mission to Riohacha Colombia in January. I traveled with a team of volunteer ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, nurses, scrub techs, and general helpers through MMI Canada, which over the course of 2 weeks took care of almost 5,000 patients. Approximately 4,000 patients were provided with glasses (prescription and reading) and 258 patients had surgery for cataracts, strabismus and pterygia. The patients came to our clinic from all over the region of La Guajira, many of whom had never had prior ophthalmic care. Many patients and their friends and family, described the care they received as life changing. As an ophthalmology resident, I was able to experience the various aspects of the project, which included caring for patients in the eye clinic, assisting in surgery, and traveling to a rural community to learn more about the local Wayuu tribe.
I gained a lot of insight about how ophthalmic care can be delivered to parts of the world with limited resources and limited access to healthcare. Although it reminded me of the vast need for ophthalmic care in underserved areas, it was a privilege to be a part of such a skilled and organized team that was able to have a large impact in a short amount of time. As I start my career in ophthalmology, I aspire to continue offering such care. Thank you for helping to make this possible.
Julie - India
My interest in international humanitarian trips began as a medical student with the opportunities to participate in general medical clinics abroad. I knew from these experiences that I wanted to continue to actively play a role in international health in some capacity as I continued in my medical training and career. Once I learned that there was a need for ophthalmology for international humanitarian trips, I knew this was the field for me.
As a resident at the University of MN, there were several opportunities to participate in international humanitarian trips with doctors from our clinics and those in the community involved with the MAO. These trips proved invaluable to me in my training; and without the funding aid from the MAO Foundation, these would not have been possible.
Working in India exposed me to conditions that I had not seen in the clinics in MN including ocular manifestations of Vitamin A deficiency and Eales disease. Not only were we able to work with one of the Indian ophthalmologists in the OR, we also spent time in an established clinic. There was such a back log of people needing surgery for their dense, white cataracts, the ophthalmologist was in surgery the majority of the time she was at the site. It was amazing to see the patients the day after their surgery when the patch was removed. Prior to surgery, these people were not able to see more than hand motion or light perception and required family members to bring them everywhere. After surgery, they were navigating on their own. The joy beaming from their faces is what makes trips like this so rewarding.
I also learned from the ophthalmologist in the OR. Her technique was very different than what we use in the US, and having that experience helped enhance my surgical training. She operates with limited resources and I saw how efficient an OR can be with minimal supplies. As a resident, having the opportunities to engage and learn through these trips not only added to my surgical and clinic skills, but also helped me develop the skills needed to actively participate in humanitarian trips as I continue in my medical career. I hope that other residents and physicians will continue to have these opportunities as well.
Julie in St. Vincent and the Grenadines:
Timothy - Africa
I received a grant from The Foundation of the MAO in March of 2014 that enabled me to travel to Zimbabwe, Africa as part of an eye care mission team. We were busy during the time we had - examining a few hundred patients, dispensing close to a hundred pairs of glasses, performing about 40 cataract surgeries, and removing conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma, among other things. Many of these patients did not otherwise have access to any eye care.
Seeing the joy and amazement on people's faces after their vision was drastically improved by glasses and cataract surgery was very rewarding. At the same time, however, I was saddened by the lack of resources and access to care that I saw and came away from the experience with a further commitment to missions. There are many people truly desperate for eye care throughout the world and it is our privilege and joy to be able to participate in helping them get that care. I am excited for what we can do in the future!
James Garrity - Salvation Army