Visualiza is a leader in eye care in Guatemala with eye hospitals in Guatemala City as well as rural regions. Visualiza now performs over 20% of cataract surgeries in Guatemala and is now the leader in helping Latin American eye hospitals aspiring to adopt the Indian “Aravind model” of providing free/ low cost eye services to low-income patients.
This May 13th – 17th, a team of ophthalmologists will volunteer their time to travel to Visualiza as we attempt to create a long term symbiotic relationship. Our goal in Guatemala is to develop self sustaining ophthalmology care delivery teams. We are sending a team of eye specialists with expertise in cataract surgery, glaucoma, retina and oculoplastics. We will provide mentorship in clinic, didactic lectures, and operate with our Guatemalan colleagues to develop the tools to provide the highest level of care to the underserved population they serve.
The under-served in Guatemala and neighboring areas will benefit greatly from our general and subspecialty specific expertise. Ophthalmologists have a unique gift to return sight to the previously blind with cataract surgery. Via simple and cost-effective 15 minute surgery, we can change the trajectory of hundreds of lives. We can impart the tools to their ophthalmologists both in cataract surgery and in sub-specialty care. This will allow them to take care of more difficult cases in the long term and continue to develop a self sustaining core of knowledge and skills that will continue for generations into the future.
We want to teach their ophthalmologists the requisite skills so that the impact of our travels last much longer than if we just came, operated and left. We want to provide one week of lectures, OR mentorship and other teachings in multiple areas of ophthalmology that will develop their ophthalmologists in multiple areas of their practice. Furthermore, we will be bringing a clinic director who can help their teams elevate the quality, reduction of medical errors, compliance, and other key clinic functions that we are well versed in and understand are the keys to a lasting impact on future generations of ophthalmologists and those under their care, in Guatemala and throughout Latin America.
This was an incredible learning experience for our colleagues in Guatemala and those of us who were visiting physician surgeons from the United States.
We were able to discuss and teach some
of the newest techniques in cataract, oculoplastic, glaucoma, and retina surgery. Together we discussed the unique challenges that they face and how it compares to the very different landscape of ophthalmology in the United States.
Their ability to care for tens of thousands of patients in an efficient and safe system was inspiring. In particular their skill with manual small incision cataracts surgery (M SICS) was extraordinary. Their surgical efficiency was exceptional.
This experience will lead to a long term lifetime partnership with our Guatemalan colleagues. Working together we hope to improve the level
of care and efficiency of processes in BOTH of our respective health care systems. It is our expectation that this will lead to a long lasting partnership and will impact the wide variety of patients that they see on a daily basis.
The impacts on each of us during our trip were simply this: we are held together by a simple bond that crosses language, culture, and nations. That bond is our goal to improve vision, prevent blindness, and bring sight to the many who currently suffer in darkness.