Mobile Update: Rural Ophthalmology

How lucky am I that there is a Mercy Vision project in this area?

Basically, cataract surgeries are done here courtesy of Mercy Ships, who also train a local doctor to perform the surgery. Thousands of South Africans are blinded by treatable causes such as cataracts, and the aim is to alleviate some of that.

Because January is a crazy month and the project centre had nobody to scrub in to assist, they almost had to cancel surgeries.

BUT med students are allowed to assist! And I am the only med student here. Heh.

By “assist” I mean pass instruments and drip solution on the cornea. Eyes are waaaaay too important to allow a medical student with a sharp implement nearby, I think. I did essentially the same thing a scrub nurse would do, which gave me a much better vantage point than what I had when observing cataract surgery during my Ophthalmology rotation. That alone made it worth it a hundred times over.

I’m pretty sure the doctor would have been just fine without me, but I’m not complaining – it was an AWESOME learning opportunity.

It was interesting to see the slight variation in techniques. The technique used here was sutureless and seemed less complicated than what I had seen before.

I also respect scrub nurses a lot more now. Not that I didn’t before – they’re intense!

The surgeries were quick, fluent and amazing. I want to do that one day.

15 thoughts on “Mobile Update: Rural Ophthalmology

    1. Hi! I don’t think Mercy Ships takes elective students. I’m doing a family rotation at a hospital in South Africa where Mercy Ships has established a Mercy Vision project. So it’s not on the ship at all – it is prefab offices and ORs where screening, cataract surgery and even glaucoma management are done. I just helped out for the day because of my interest in ophthalmology and their need for an extra pair of hands. You could probably find out more about Mercy Ships opportunities on their site. I’m pretty sure that doctors who work for them get to take their spouses! Nice to meet you 🙂

      1. Thanks for all the info! Nice to meet you too! My husband is a first year med student and I know he is interested in medical mission opportunities that we could go on (and possibly our kids if we are so blessed!) so I try to gather info when I have the opportunity. 🙂

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