Casey Eye Institute’s International Ophthalmology Program strives to reduce treatable and preventable blindness by bringing high-quality training to eye care providers working in developing countries. As a participant in the World Health Organization’s Vision 2020 effort, Casey Eye Institute (CEI) is able to offer its best resources: knowledge and training. We hope to leverage this by contributing to the education of future ophthalmologists, scientists, and other eye care providers in underserved communities around the world. Additionally, we hope to inspire our own students here at OHSU to pursue careers involving public service.
Many eye care providers in Latin America, the Western Pacific and Asia lack necessary training or have limited resources. Our aim is to increase the quantity and quality of eye care in developing countries in order to reduce rates of preventable and reversible causes of blindness and poor vision in those regions. These diseases range from river blindness to retinopathy of prematurity to glaucoma to cataract – areas where CEI has the expertise to make a difference.
Fellowships for foreign ophthalmologists
The International Ophthalmology Program fellowships bring foreign ophthalmologists to Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon, where they receive specific medical and surgical training, allowing them to later extend both basic and specialized eye care to their underserved populations. The curriculum is also designed to give fellows specific skills in epidemiology, public health, research, or other aspects of ophthalmology that allow for their participation within their own national Vision 2020 campaigns to eliminate and prevent blindness in their home nations.
Instilling service in tomorrow’s leaders
The International Ophthalmology Program also allows OHSU’s ophthalmology residents (trainee surgeons) to travel internationally to treat patients in underserved communities. During a trip to Fiji, more than 200 patients received the gift of sight as surgeons treated cataracts and other eye diseases. For former resident Dan Tu, M.D., this was an opportunity to augment his surgical skills – including manual small incision cataract surgery, a low-cost alternative to phacoemulsification often used in underserved areas of the world.With additional philanthropic support, CEI could extend this life-changing experience to more students while bringing needed care to more underserved communities.