Medical Eye Center in the News
Medical Eye Center Doctor restores eyesight in Africa and trains African doctor here in Medford It takes a village—a global village—to improve health care around the world. And Medford doctor Matt Oliva of Medical Eye Center (MEC) is doing his part. Together with the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), he is striving to promote self-sufficient eye care in impoverished nations by restoring eyesight to thousands in Africa and teaching African doctors—one of whom he’ll host right here in Medford—to do the same. Dr. Oliva has teamed up with HCP and the Earth Institute at Columbia University on the Millenium Villages Project, which involves finding the most cost effective health, agriculture, and education interventions in order to help rural African villages lift themselves out of poverty and meet the millennium development goals set forth by the United Nations. As part of this effort Dr. Oliva is in western Kenya for a week conducting comprehensive eye care programs. Working with Kenyan ophthalmologist, Dr. Ciku Mathenge and her team of Kenyan ophthalmic nurses, Dr. Oliva will be performing cataract surgery, examining all 5000 members of the village and treating any eye disease present, mass treating for Vitamin A deficiency, and providing glasses for patients that need them. Sauri, Kenya is a farming community plagued by hunger, AIDS, and malaria. Between sixty and seventy percent of the population live on less than a dollar per day. With limited access to medical care and poverty preventing residents from buying what little medicine is available, malnutrition and
by Dr. Matt Oliva Blindness exerts an incredible toll in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, in terms of both human suffering and adverse economic impact. Due to environmental conditions, malnutrition and vitamin deficiency, ocular infections, trauma and lack of access to care, some of the world’s highest rates of blindness exist in this arid and mountainous area, with a 1.5% estimated prevalence rate. The majority of this blindness is caused by cataract and corneal opacification, both of which are treatable conditions, often for as little as $20 per surgery. The Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) is working to eradicate preventable and treatable blindness in the developing world. Beginning in 2007, in partnership with the Millennium Cities Initiative, we joined forces with the Quiha Zonal Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia, and the Tigray Regional Health Bureau to dramatically expand access to high volume, high quality, modern cataract and corneal surgery in northern Ethiopia. The results have been stunning. Over the last two years, Quiha has provided more than 1,000 sight-restoring surgeries per month – both at the hospital in Mekelle, as well as through extensive outreach work at community health centers staffed by ophthalmic nurses. A particular highlight has been five high-volume cataract programs over the last two years. Most recently, in July 2010, a staggering 973 surgeries – cataract, corneal transplant and glaucoma – were performed over the course of one week. Patients were screened throughout the region over the preceding three-week period, with ophthalmic nurses traveling to remote villages and finding
Read The Mail Tribune’s article about Dr. Matt Oliva’s work with the Himalayan Cataract Project. On the board of directors since 2006, Dr. Oliva is currently director of African programs. He travels the globe helping restore vision to people in poor, rural communities. “There are 18 million people in the world that are blind in both eyes from cataracts,” says Dr. Oliva. “But it’s possible to eradicate this preventable blindness if enough resources are brought to bear.” Click here to open a 2-page PDF with the article.
Second Suns tells the story of the Himalayan Cataract Project’s work restoring vision to people in the poorest communities of Asia and Africa. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness globally and can be treated with a 10-minute surgery. In wealthy countries, surgery is readily available and cataracts typically are removed when there is mild visual impairment. In poorer countries, however, the condition often progresses to total blindness, and treatment for many is unavailable. The World Health Organization estimates that 18 million people remain blind from cataracts. Medical Eye Center’s Dr. Matt Oliva is a board member and director of African programs at the Himalayan Cataract Project, which is the subject of a new book called Second Suns, published by Random House. Drs. Paul Jorizzo and Paul Imperia have also been associate physicians with the international non-profit organization since 2008. “I’m very proud to be mentioned in Second Suns” says Dr. Oliva. “I’m hoping the book will raise awareness for our high quality, comprehensive approach to eradicating treatable blindness in the world’s poorest countries.” Learn more…
Dr. Paul Imperia and Dr. Matt Oliva treat hundreds of cataract patients in Ethiopia. One hundred blind patients in threadbare robes sit shoulder to shoulder against the wall in a converted warehouse in rural Ethiopia. They wait for surgery that will allow them to see again. Tomorrow, a new group of a hundred will wait. An ophthalmologist makes quick incisions into the eye of a patient and removes a cataract. The procedure is efficient, sterile and takes about seven minutes. Medford doctors Matthew Oliva and Paul Imperia recently worked side by side in this fashion with an Ethiopian doctor, treating hundreds of patients over the course of a weeklong visit. Dr. Oliva and Dr. Imperia volunteer their time and expertise for the Himalayan Cataract Project, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 dedicated to creating a model for sustainable eye care in the developing world. Read the full article here Download 2MB PDF here
Everyone’s eyesight begins to decline as we reach our 40s. Check out this article in which Dr. Craig Lemley discusses the causes of age-related eye disease and what we can do to keep our vision healthy. Read the full article here.
Dr. Paul Imperia is a quiet, thoughtful man on a mission to help the underserved do something that many of us take for granted—see clearly. For the last year, a team from Medford’s Medical Eye Center has provided exams, optical services, surgeries, and other specialized eye care to our neediest patients at our Central Point Health Center. To date, this program has served 196 patients (164 of these have received new, low-cost prescription glasses). Eye care services are for patients who do not have vision insurance and are low-income. Since the program began, the Medical Eye Center has donated $200,000 in volunteer services, including 23 surgeries. The need for this program is profound. Before surgery, one woman had 20/60 vision in one eye and in the other could only detect movements as shadows; she now has 20/20 vision, said technician manager Kristi Seney. We are blessed and honored to have the support of the Medical Eye Center and will help sustain their efforts by allocating a portion of our 2011 Raise Your Heart for Health proceeds to purchase needed equipment and supplies for this program.