Eye Care Beyond Our Borders
Dr Tomás Parra and optometrist Alberto Barros, both professionals from the institute travelled in November to the province of Battambang, in Cambodia, to meet the eye-related demands of the inhabitants of the area. All in all, they performed approximately 500 eye check-ups thanks to the joint work of Monsignor Enrique Figaredo, a Jesuit from Asturias and Apostolic Prefect of Battambang, and the Fundación Fernández-Vega, which works daily aiming to facilitate access to eye services and benefits to underprivileged individuals and collectives.
From November 5 to 11, the specialists from the Institute carried out several medical visits. Approximately 220 check-ups were performed at the prefecture, and were complemented with 60 more performed to the workers of the textile factory of the area, -of which half were disabled victims of anti-personnel mines and war, – 140 from Chomnaom – a parish from the same region – and 80 more check-ups that took place in Tahen, a church with a school for children, as well as a dining room and housing for orphans or those who have family issues at home.
The most common ocular pathologies detected were: refraction defects – myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia,- allergic problems and eye dryness as well as UV-related diseases due to the high radiation of the sun, such as pterigium, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Therefore, one of the most important measures taken by the professionals of the Institute in Cambodia was to give out approximately 450 glasses, – mostly donated by the Institute, – especially for children, as uncorrected visual problems are one of the main causes of academic failure. Likewise, the necessary drugs for the eye diseases detected were given out, as well as a large quantity of sunglasses to avoid the radiation from the sun.
The expedition that left from Oviedo had throughout the support of Dr Inés Hernanz, Spanish medical resident, as well as of several volunteers from the prefecture and that of Nhor Chamro, a Cambodian student in her last year of her Medicine Degree who was paramount in the communication between specialists and patients.