Hawaiian Eye Foundation Volunteer Surgeons Train Eye Doctors in Myanmar

Highly trained and valuably skilled ophthalmologists from across the United States joined together to form a team of 20 volunteers that traveled to Yangon, Myanmar, this month. The five-day Myanmar Eye Meeting (MEM) was held at the Yangon Eye Hospital, conducted by the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, and sponsored by Zeiss International and American Vision Myanmar. MEM was attended by over 100 Burmese ophthalmology students and practicing ophthalmologists.

This year’s meeting marked the country’s third MEM eye surgical training program since the country’s opening to democracy. A wide range of didactic topics were again included: glaucoma, cataracts, plastics, neuro-ophthalmology, refractive, pediatric, corneal and retinal disorders were covered in lectures, patient consultations, and live surgery demonstrations. Here, over 300 patients were examined and 53 surgeries were done to teach local doctors and assist with their difficult cases. Final follow-up appointments were conducted and confirm that all surgeries were successful. Our world-renowned specialists have done their job once again, while providing valuable education to Burmese ophthalmologists. We thank Drs. Penny Asbell, Mary O’Hara, Prem Subramanian, James Bradley Randleman, Dhanu Meleth, Manchima Makornwattana, Ronald Pelton, Yean Yaw Choong, and Jeffrey Rutgard for their sharing surgical skills and knowledge.

We are really doing this for the patients of our Burmese colleagues. They are the ones who benefit from the enhanced skills we impart to their surgeons.

John M Corboy, M.D., President of Hawaiian Eye Foundation

This year, as in the past, we were asked to include hands-on basic skills training workshops for local residents. Topics included retinoscopy, refraction, keratometry, lensometry, tonometry, indirect ophthalmology, gonioscopy, visual fields, pediatric exams and optical coherence tomography based on the students desire to perfect their techniques. Nearly 40 residents and recent graduates were given one-on-one trainings on each topic thanks to Drs. Jessica Heckman, Myo Aung Kyaw, Wah Wah Lwin, John Corboy, Bill Hewak and Sophia Fang, Nurse Vanessa Novak, and Ophthalmic Technicians Marche Metoyer and Barbara Elmore.

The doctors and fellow faculty members traveled to Myanmar at their own expense to donate their time. “We are really doing this for the patients of our Burmese colleagues,” said Dr. John Corboy, President of Hawaiian Eye Foundation. “They are the ones who benefit from the enhanced skills we impart to their surgeons.” Myanmar has 350 ophthalmologists for all 55 million people. This represents a ratio of one ophthalmologist for 160,000 people, which is one-quarter of the World Health Organization’s target. Thus, the urgent need for ophthalmic training. Because of the event’s success, Hawaiian Eye Foundation was invited to return for MEM IV in 2019, and also asked to expand to the Mandalay region of Myanmar for a similar training program. The Foundation’s efforts in Myanmar are amplified by its scholarship programs for SE Asian ophthalmologists and ongoing Vietnamese symposiums.

The 501(c)(3) non-profit, Hawaiian Eye Foundation (HEF), for 35 years, has worked to ensure that all people have access to eye care. http://hawaiianeyefoundation.org.

Source: Hawaiian Eye Foundation