I arrived August 24th in Yangoon, Myanmar. It was nearly midnight and the cool temperature that had accompanied for 13 hours was replaced by a wall of humidity; a temperature of 90˚F requiring removal of the long sleeve t-shirt and sweater before I became my own shower. The hotel was 45 minutes away as the rain poured from the sky, I was afforded a quick night of sleep and was up and ready to go at 6 a.m. - I walked to the Yangoon Eye Hospital where the other members of our training team were organized. Each of the ophthalmology subspecialties were taught in a lecture format, one each day: retina, glaucoma, oculo-plastics, neuro-ophthalmology, corneal transplant - DSEK, and manual small incision cataract surgery.
Our lecture was filled with about 90-100 doctors in training. All were going to be ophthalmologists, and all were very attentive, desiring to learn anything and everything they could from each of us knowing this was a very special educational opportunity. The eager doctors’ in training filled the lecture hall to capacity. Standing room only for each lecture of the subspecialties. We engaged in a clinic speciality day where the residents and their professors brought in their most complex ocular patients for us to examine, evaluate, make recommendations and operate on. I performed 5 surgeries, teaching 5 different ophthalmic nurses and 10 doctors in training the necessary steps. The doctors had never seen a suture-less cataract surgery performed: they were in awe that rock hard cataracts could be removed with a 3- 6 mm incision without any sutures and a foldable intra-ocular lens put through this incision. All eyes were on the eye surgery and the young doctors were very excited to see such an amazing surgery that could be done in less than 10 minutes. Their smiles lit up when I said the surgery was over and they asked "please do it again, I want to learn this procedure". It was exciting to teach this most valuable of surgeries to these dedicated young doctors.
It rained nearly every day, water floating down through the thick humidity while the sun shown through, baking us in the 100 degree heat while our wet clothes appeared dry on the outside but remained soaked against our skin. The trip was filled with delightful young doctors hoping to learn, and with kind patients hoping to have their eyesight restored. It was an excellent training course.
iSight Missions is a nonprofit charity that provides impoverished persons access to quality eye care, vision-restoring surgery and trains eye care providers worldwide. These interventions are solutions to reverse poverty, restore hope, dignity and the gift of sight.