In an effort to give back to those in greatest need, Sacramento Eye Consultants, The Alabama Eye Bank, and Sierra Eye and Tissue Services in Sacramento have teamed up to provide donor corneal tissue for transplantation to Honduras, a small and very poor country in Central America with no local eye bank.
The cornea is the clear, front part of the eye, which serves as the window through which images enter the eye and are transmitted to the brain. Various conditions or diseases, such as trauma, infections or degenerations can damage the cornea resulting in a decrease or loss of vision. In a corneal transplant, the cornea from a human organ donor replaces the patient’s damaged cornea. The donor cornea is acquired, stored and shipped to the surgeon by the eye bank.
Honduran patients with blindness due to corneal diseases now have access to a corneal transplant procedure and regain their precious sight.
During a trip to my home country of Honduras in the summer of 2009, I visited the main eye hospital, Hospital General San Felipe, to help the local ophthalmologists learn a new corneal transplantation technique, known as DSEK. Sierra Eye and Tissue Services, our local eye bank in Sacramento, had generously donated six corneal grafts for my trip. Approximately twenty patients arrived at the hospital in hopes of acquiring a new cornea; after examination six were chosen. Unfortunately, since there are no eye banks in Honduras, the rest could only hope for a future miracle. Like them, thousands of other Honduran patients with corneal diseases wish and wait for an opportunity to regain their sight. For me, this was a rude awakening to the misery and poverty of my native land, especially when compared to the vast availability of corneal tissue here in America, where there is no waiting list and insurance plans usually cover most or at least part of the costs of surgery.
When I returned to Sacramento, I knew I had to do something. I contacted various eye banks and explained the tremendous need for corneal tissue in Honduras. Thanks to the generosity of the Alabama Eye Bank and Sierra Eye and Tissue Services in Sacramento, we have been able to ship hundreds of corneas to Honduras. As I reflect on this small accomplishment, I realize how rich our lives are when we give to others and how easily our talents and resources can make a real impact.
Sacramento Eye Consultants and staff took part in Acts of Mercy's Operation Backpack to collects backpacks and school supplies, which were donated to local children in need through the Food Bank by Volunteers of America.
It’s been well documented that eating healthy and exercising not only improve your general health, but also the health of your eyes. The Staff at Sacramento Eye Consultants took that to heart and had a busy “after hours” summer! We participated in Race for the Cure, benefitting breast cancer research and Eppie’s Great Race, “The World’s Oldest Triathlon”, benefitting the Sacramento County Therapeutic Recreation Services.
Give back to yourself, your family and your community. Eat right, exercise and get involved with your community. And remember to have your annual medical eye exam, and encourage others to have theirs.