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Extending eye care abroad

Cataract is the leading cause of reversible vision loss and Glaucoma is the leading cause of permanent vision loss worldwide. Millions of people are impacted and unnecessarily blinded by these conditions each year – much of this taking place in low and middle-income countries. 

Dr. BettisUniversity of Iowa physicians are addressing this global health concern through international relationships that they have formed across the ophthalmology and optometry fields. Glaucoma specialist Dr. Dan Bettis is one of several doctors attempting to address the global need. He has a passion for providing eye care to underserved populations. Since 2013, he has traveled annually to Haiti and other locations to provide eye care and sight-saving surgeries through partnerships he has developed.

Dr. Bettis is currently focused on the less developed northern portion of Haiti where he has joined forces with local eye care providers at Vision Plus Clinic in Cap Haitien. Each year he travels with a small team of ophthalmologists and healthcare providers for a one to two week period of teaching and surgical care.  In addition to conducting surgery, the team focuses on sharing medical and surgical techniques with an eye on expanding the local training that is available.

“Not only does my work abroad "feed" some of my core values and give me a renewed appreciation for my life at home, it also makes me a better doctor. We are forced to work in challenging conditions, constantly asking ourselves how we can do more with less to the benefit of our patients. This can lead to new and innovative ideas that we can use back home," shares Bettis.

Future directions for the Haiti outreach include building capacity through local providers and the country’s one ophthalmology residency program in Port-au-Prince. Broader plans are to involve ophthalmology fellows and residents on international outreach trips as a way of exposing ophthalmologists in training to the burden of blindness and differing health care systems around the globe.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018