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ophtho medical mission

Discussion in 'Ophthalmology: Eye Physicians & Surgeons' started by deuceswild, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. deuceswild

    deuceswild New Member
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    I was reading that 28 of the 36 million people worldwide who are blind do not need to be. I'm a 3rd year med student very interested and enthusiastic about entering ophthalmology and I'm looking for some information on any ophtho medical missions I can participate in during my winter break and/or spring break. I'm not looking to do surgeries and anything invasive, just looking to help out in any way I can. If anybody can recommend any contacts or organizations I would really appreciate it. Please feel free to private message me or post on this thread.
     
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  3. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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    Certainly. Try "Unite for Sight." It's a nationally-recognized organization aimed at eradicating blindness around the world. They offer 2-4 wk international internship in different parts of the world, including South America, Africa, Europe, and several countries in Asia.

    How do I know this? This past summer, I went on a 4-week surgical eye mission through UFS to Chennai, India. Everyday, we would report to the local eye clinic and together with an optometrist and a camp coordinator, we would travel to the camp site. Our work was distributed such that one day we did screenings at old age homes, one day at government schools (for the poor), and one day at orphanages. We did this for 2 weeks and then traveled to a smaller city called Erode. The eye hospital in Erode had been doing large-scale cataracts camps for over 8 years. Together with their efforts, we performed 228 cataract surgeries and treated over 1000 patients for various eye pathologies, all in just 6 days!

    This type of work is extremely gratifying. Hopefully, UFS offers something that fits with your schedule and your interests. G'luck!
     
  4. kiernin

    kiernin Member
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  5. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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  6. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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    Oh yeah, and you also have to raise at least 300 pairs of eyeglasses. Call a few LASIK centers and you'll have 300 in no time.
     
  7. sjkpark

    sjkpark Senior Member
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    Sounds incredibly interesting... What did you get to do as a medical student? I'm very enthusiastic about ophthalmology and spending some time in a mission environment. However I'm wondering whether I'll be better off doing something where I would get some hands-on experience, such as general surg.
     
  8. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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    No formal training in ophthalmology is required for the internship. In fact, out of the 5 people in our group, 2 were undergrad students and 3 were med students (myself included). I was the only one who had previous training in ophthalmology.

    Our screening tools were very basic, a flashlight to check for gross abnormalities of the anterior segment and a reading chart to check vision. One person would stand by the chart and point to letters while the others sat next to the patient and gave instructions and recorded findings. If vision was less than 6/18 (equivalent of 20/40) they were referred to the optometrist for on-site refraction using trial frames and lenses. A pair of glasses was then issued matching the patient’s prescription as closely as possible. (This is why we brought glasses with us from the U.S.).

    If refraction was not helpful and if cataracts were suspected, they were referred to the eye clinic for further work-up and eventual cataract extraction (This is why we each raised at least $300). If you had an interest in seeing cataract surgery, you could go to the OR in the afternoons/evenings. I did this often and finally got to see several cases of cataract surgeries, using different surgical approaches: Suture-less Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SICS), phaco, and extra-cap. I even observed some LASIK cases…on paying, wealthy patients of course.

    A little over 10 years ago, there was a HUGE back-log of cataracts India. The government decided that this was unacceptable and began offering financial incentives to hospitals and eye clinics who were willing to provide free medical/surgical tx for the poor. Realizing that phaco was not efficient and not financially-feasible for large scale cataract camps, ophthalmologists at the Aravind Eye hospital perfected the Suture-less SICS approach. It costs half the price and is done in half the time. In fact, the chief of the hospital in Erode, India (Arasan Eye hospital) could do a SICS in under 5 minutes!

    Not only did I get to observe several surgical cases, I saw more corneal pathology (fungal infections, big time!), foreign bodies, traumatic cataracts, RP's, pterygia, etc than I'll probably ever see in my training as a resident (hopefully) in the U.S.

    I'd highly recommend this trip to any medical student interested in international eye missions. You'll see a different side of ophthalmology, one that will definitely deepen your appreciation for this field.
     
  9. sjkpark

    sjkpark Senior Member
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    Did you get to do a few FB removals yourself?
     
  10. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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    I never asked but I'm sure they'd let me if I insisted. I don't particularily find FB removal very exciting. It's one of those quick fixes that makes the patient feel 10x better but after a few of these, your excitement level drops real fast. I was hungry for OR time as I never really got a chance to observe surgeries during my time as an ophthalmic tech. As a student, you'll get to do alot more in a foreign country than you'll probably ever get to do during an ophtho rotation in the U.S.
     
  11. sjkpark

    sjkpark Senior Member
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    I am from a foreign country! :laugh:

    I thought you get to do heaps of stuff as a medical student in US, more so than here.

    I'm pretty confident with direct ophthalmoscopy but still struggle with anything to do with slit lamp. I was looking for an elective programme in US but most elective programmes seem to concentrate on teaching direct ophthalmoscopy and mainly sitting in the clinics. I heard good things about Columbia programme but it is not open to foreign students like me.

    Going into OR for me is not a real problem. I never enjoyed theatres because surgeons enjoy asking anatomy questions (and don't you love it when they snigger "You should know this, you've done it more recently than me!"). But I like ophtho theatres - the ophtho theatre staff are the most congenial and at least you have a monitor!

    The other day I got to assist in corneal transplant and I really enjoyed it.
     
  12. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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    Forgive me for assuming...:)

    You're right, probably one of the most difficult things getting started in ophthalmology is knowing how to use the equipement. Using the slit-lamp, ophthalmoscope, and of course, checking IOP's seems pretty intimidating at first but you'll be a pro in no time. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to practice using the slit-lamp during an ophtho rotation...something so central to the field.
     
  13. KHE

    KHE Senior Member
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    Let me make a suggestion...

    WHile you can certainly treat hyperopia with LASIK, the fact is that most lasik patients are myopic, and you won't find a lot of myopia on many of these medical missions.

    Usually, PLUS spectacles are in very short supply on these types of missions. You would probably be better off going to the lost and found at a few area nursing homes, or contacting them to see if they have a bin full of glasses from patients that have passed away.
     
  14. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!
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    Actually where I went, there was a great need for both minus and plus lenses. The children needed mostly minus lenses and the elderly needed plus.
     

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