As a surgeon, I have removed thousands of cataracts and I have taught hundreds of residents how to perform cataract surgery with precision and attention to detail. As a volunteer outreach doctor, I brought my equipment and taught several times in various countries.
I always thought what I did was exceptional work; at times challenging but always rewarding.
As I developed friendships with my colleagues who live and work in low resource settings, I began to see what real challenges looked like. It wasn’t a difficult case, a challenging diagnosis or an overbooked clinic. It was the challenge of trying to provide proper care without basic tools. How to stretch the supplies to meet the needs of triple its proper distribution. The realization that the blind woman sitting in front of me could see again. She could get her job back and her independence with a simple surgery that I have done thousands of times. However, there is no microscope here and without a microscope there can be no surgery.
I have never been challenged with treating cataracts without the proper equipment. I cannot imagine the frustration and sense of deep sadness to have a skill to help another and not be able to help.
Well, I say take out a loan and buy the equipment, but who will lend monies to an equation that will not balance. Basic ophthalmic equipment is between 100-200k and a study in Tanzania revealed patients were willing to pay 2 dollars for the procedure; the lens alone costs 15 dollars.
And so we have Eye Corps. We loan equipment long term for no cost. Our expectation is only that there will be reduced prices for those in need.