By Steven Stern, iCARE Director
In September of 2017, Great Shape! Inc’s iCARE program conducted a free eye care clinic at the Duncans Methodist Church in Trelawny. 11-year-old Andrew was one of our patients. Andrew has congenital glaucoma, a condition where his eye pressure is too high and is damaging his optic nerve. The almost certain outcome is permanent blindness. He already lost the sight in his right eye and would rapidly lose the sight in his left without surgery. Glaucoma surgery needs to be performed to lower the eye pressure to a safe level if it cannot be controlled with medication or laser surgery. His mother, who doesn’t have the funds to pay for this expensive procedure, was distraught. Andrew faced a life of total blindness without quick intervention.
Two iCARE volunteers, Dr. Dan Brown and Karl Ward decided to help. They generously agreed to cover the costs of the required tube shunt placement surgery. The shunt is a tube attached to a reservoir. The reservoir is placed under the conjunctiva and tenons and sewn to the sclera. The tube portion is placed into the anterior chamber – in front of the iris and behind the cornea. The tube shunt is covered by the conjunctiva so that no part of the shunt is exposed to the outside world. This allows the fluid inside the eye to exit through the tube into the reservoir draining under the conjunctiva. The fluid is reabsorbed and eye pressure is lowered.
The procedure was successfully accomplished in May of 2018 at the University of the West Indies by Dr. Donald Swaby – one of the few doctors in Jamaica who performs this specialized surgery. Dr. Swaby donated both his services and the tube shunt. Andrew now has a much better prognosis for retaining his remaining vision over the long term!
My deep heartfelt thanks and respect to Dr. Dan Brown, Dr. Donald Swaby, and Karl Ward for their compassion in action. Their vision has saved Andrew’s remaining sight and transformed his life and the life of his family.