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Big Picture: Eye Care = Access

SriniVas Sadda, MD

President & Chief Scientific Officer

A Thanksgiving Message

Many of us likely read with interest the recent story by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times about the Nepalese ophthalmologist Dr. Sanduk Ruit, who cures blindness with a $50 cataract operation.

The story seems unreal—that a woman reduced to crawling around her home and village suddenly can function as a sighted person, and the solution was no more costly or complicated than $50 and about five minutes of a skilled medical professional’s time. But those resources are so scarce in some parts of our world that many blind or visually impaired people simply can’t get the help they need.

This true and all too common story, is a reminder that at Doheny, and at our peer institutions around the globe, we have much to be grateful for. The caliber of care we can provide and even expect, and the access to care that we assume, is hardly the global standard; it is far above that standard, even as less developed places in our world strive to provide the same.

My professional life is staked in that mission. And stories like this one are also very personal for me. My wife is from Nellore, India, and I know from visiting her city, and her parents, that a visit to the eye doctor is a luxury for many people in India.

Because of that, when my mother-in-law retired from her practice as an ob-gyn, my in-laws decided to convert the operating theater, exam rooms, and inpatient wards at the medical center where she worked into an eye and cataract surgery center. They knew that cataract was a treatable but leading cause of blindness in India (and much of the world), but many people could not offer this sight-restoring surgery.

As a result, the Mamatha Nursing Home (in India a nursing home is more like a small hospital or urgent care center here), which was established by my father-in-law, Mr. B. Srihari Reddy, now hosts a free cataract surgery clinic. The clinic is staffed by the generous physicians of the nearby Modern Eye Hospital (under the direction of Dr. P.L. Rao) who donate their time to perform these procedures.

At Mamatha, typically 5000-6000 patients are seen and receive free cataract surgery every year! I’ve lectured there and given some training to local doctors. In this case, the relationship to Doheny is myself.

But the history of Doheny’s global connections goes much deeper. Global reach has been central to DEI’s mission for decades, as we’ve worked to bring the best diagnosis and treatment we can to all. By training an international cohort of eye specialists every year, we know we are sending practitioners of state-of-the art vision care to every continent. We appreciate the reach we have, the ability to touch so many lives, and the generosity of donors and patrons who understand that.

Thank you for supporting Doheny’s work, our mission, and the gift of sight.

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