Medical Eye Center’s cornea specialist, Dr. Matt Oliva, gave the crew of HBO’s ‘Vice’ an intimate look into the sight-restoring efforts of medical teams treating cataracts in developing countries. This Emmy-winning series followed Dr. Oliva and the Himalayan Cataract Project to Ethiopia, where they performed nearly 700 surgeries over the course of a week.
Around the world, 19 million people are blind because of cataracts. The number of cases are disproportionately high in developing countries, like Ethiopia, where sunlight exposure, poor water quality and lack of access to medical care have created a nation-wide health issue.
“It’s a social problem, it’s a human suffering problem and it’s an economic problem,” says Dr. Oliva.
In regions where blind family members often become burdensome to their loved ones, cataract surgery is truly a transformative procedure. During the filming of “Beating Blindness,” Dr. Oliva and the surgical team performed nearly 100 surgeries each day. With a recovery time of less than 24 hours, the results from cataract procedures are immediate and life-changing.
“The best part of every morning is getting to take the patches off,” says Dr. Oliva, “and seeing all of our hard work from yesterday.”
For people who never expected to experience sight again, the transformation is profound. The gift of renewed vision not only impacts the lives of individual patients, but also affects the well-being of entire communities.