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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 11/24/99
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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UC Ophthalmology Team Shares the Gift of Sight

Cincinnati—The generosity of a University of Cincinnati (UC) medical team will give the gift of sight to citizens of the Dominican Republic. The mission is a part of the UC Vision Quest Organization started in 1995 by Joshua J. Sands, MD, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the College of Medicine and a member of the Cincinnati Eye Institute (CEI), and Don Stephens, MD, who was then a UC medical student. The six-member medical team will head to Manuel Bueno, Dominican Republic, a small rural village up in the mountains near the Haitian border, on December 4 and will return home on December 12.

"Ophthalmology care is often times not an option for these citizens," says Sands. "The cost of cataract surgery is equal to a year's wage in this rural area. Families cannot afford eye care, and many are blind from cataracts."

The goals of the Vision Quest Organization center on the delivery of quality eye care and surgery to medically underserved areas. "Our teams combine the efforts and talents of ophthalmologists, resident ophthalmologists, medical student optometrists, ophthalmic technicians, translators, and others," states Sands. "The medical education benefit to the mission participants is obvious. The culturally enriching experience of the mission is equally strong."

"We accomplish our good work as a team," continues Sands. "The actual participants are fortunate to see the faces of formerly blind patients having their patches removed on the first postoperative day. Their smile, happiness, and gratitude are ample reward for the arduousness of the trip. Many patients have been unable to see their family members for a long time due to their blindness. To be present at the emotional moment when the patient can see their family is truly a gift."

"This work only continues because of the enthusiasm and zeal of the team participants and our mission supporters," says Sands. "All surgical supplies and equipment need to be brought with us to the Dominican Republic. We have been able to perform these missions due the generosity of the many ophthalmic equipment companies. The CEI supports Vision Quest with a strong commitment to help get supplies and equipment. Equally important has been the monetary support of concerned individuals." Vision Quest is part of the University of Cincinnati Ophthalmic Foundation.



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