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.
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."
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.