Rick Bartlett, OD, was part of an eye team of 8 optometrists who donated their time this past February to serve in HFHC’s Child Care Clinics. They brought with them over $200,000 worth of donated glaucoma medicines to distribute to those identified with this insidious disease. This is what he had to say about his experience.
Glaucoma is a disease without symptoms – usually there is no pain. It will just gradually take your sight before you realize it. One day you wake up and you have lost all your vision. Glaucoma is an epidemic here [in Haiti]. Statistics show that in developed countries, the incidence of glaucoma rate is about 2%. In Haiti, studies are showing that 1 out of every 5 Haitians will develop glaucoma sometime in their lifetime. But even more concerning, we saw it appearing in the younger population more than any other demographic that I am aware of. I have been in practice 38 years, and I have never diagnosed glaucoma in a child. This week, in our clinic, out of the 800 children we examined, we put 8 sponsored kids between the ages of 8 and 12 on glaucoma drops. And we also identified a lot of “glaucoma suspects” who will need to be watched and monitored as well.
This is a very tangible result of HFHC’s work. We are catching glaucoma in these kids and giving them a year’s worth of drops to keep their pressures down. The drops will be dispensed either at school or at home. We will continue to follow these children, and make sure that their eye pressures are under control and their vision is being preserved.
There is huge value in the sponsored child eye clinics in identifying these children early. They are the hope and future of Haiti.