Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness in the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that at least a 150 million people are blind from cataracts with a further 50 million severely visually impaired.
In the developed world, cataract surgery is performed as soon as there is an impact on patients’ quality of life but in the developing world, there are very few ophthalmic surgeons who are able to carry out the necessary surgery. It is amazing that a procedure that can be performed in less than 20 minutes is all that is required to reverse blindness and change peoples’ lives.
Our OCL surgeons have a strong interest in charitable ophthalmic work and have been on numerous trips abroad helping some of the world’s most needy people see again.
Collectively, they’ve been to many countries including India, Sri Lanka, Bali, Burma, Madagascar, Bangladesh and Ghana restoring sight to patients afflicted with cataracts as well as training local surgeons.
Although some of the places visited and the environments are challenging, this is offset by the huge rewards and gratitude that come with giving people their eyesight back.
We believe that we should use our skills and knowledge to help those who don’t have access to healthcare that we can so often take for granted.
As well as our surgeons giving their time and expertise, Ophthalmic Consultants of London as a company choose a sight-saving charity each year and donate money to fund a cataract procedure for each review left by our patients on the independent review site Trust Pilot.
In 2019 Romesh Angunawela travelled to Sri Lanka to perform the first DMEK corneal cell transplant surgery on the island and to teach the local ophthalmic surgeons this technique. Patients travel far to a few specialist centres in Sri Lanka and DMEK surgery has an advantage over conventional corneal transplant surgery in having a very low rejection rate and relatively rapid recovery from surgery.
In November 2017, OCL surgeons Ali Mearza and Allon Barsam were part of a team of surgeons,
nurses and technicians who went to Phnom Penh in Cambodia as part of a charitable mission
with the Khmer Sight Foundation. Cambodia has a chronic shortage of ophthalmic surgeons which has meant that the country has a huge problem with treatable blindness from cataracts. The Khmer Sight Foundation was established to help treat blindness in the country. Through its links around the World, surgeons from all over the globe have given up their time and offered their expertise to help. Four of the surgical team on this visit including Ali Mearza and Allon Barsam carried out a similar mission in Ghana in 2009.
Himalayan Vision Project
Remote parts of northern India have limited access to specialist health care. The Himalayan Health Project and Himalayan Vision Project have had significant impact in 3 areas of health; cervical cancer prevention, dental hygiene and preventable blindness. Mr Angunawela was fortunate to be part of a group of eye surgeons performing cataract and other eye surgeries in this remote part of the world. Patients travelled for days on foot to attend clinics and surgeries.