In Canada we tend to think of cataracts as a common problem for older people. In tropical places, cataracts can affect younger people and they are the most common cause of blindness in the world.
Dr. Sue Wallace, an ophthalmologist from B.C., and a team with International Vision Volunteers Canada went to Zambia in the fall of 2015 for two weeks. They saw over 600 patients and performed 75 surgeries.
Dr. Wallace and her team were equipped by HPIC with a humanitarian medical kit, containing specially donated products from Hospira, Pharmascience and Teva for this mission.
“These patients are extremely poor and there would otherwise be no accessible eye care available,” she wrote in her report to HPIC. “Certainly they would not be able to afford the medications we dispensed and we could not have done our surgeries without the anesthetic products that were donated.”
One of the patients who had surgery was a young mother. Dr. Wallace told her story in her report to HPIC:
“A young woman was led into our clinic by her husband. She was bilaterally blind from dense white cataracts that had developed over a year ago. She was no longer able to care for her young children and had never seen her new baby’s face. She underwent cataract surgery and the next morning we removed her eye patch and she saw her baby for the first time!
“The look of joy and appreciation that crossed her face was a sight to be seen! She will now be able to look after her family instead of being a burden.”
This particular patient benefited from the local anaesthetic donated by Hospira.