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Handling Eyes Together (a review)

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I attended the Handling Eyes Together Conference this weekend in Fort Worth TX and couldn't be more glad I did.
When I first saw the email about the conference, I thought I've been meaning to follow through with medical missions after going to Camp Diego October 2013 where I did 11 MSICS cases.   After coming home I returned to the routine of life with my wife in our "empty nest" and the business of my practice with Wolfe Clinic in Northwest Iowa.  This conference sounded like a way to hopefully "brush up" on my MSICS experience and to hopefully connect with someone to work with for an international eye mission trip for further training.
I was encouraged to meet many faith-minded ophthalmologists at the conference,  some of whom have spent their careers or portions of their careers serving on the mission field and others, like me, who haven't but have a desire to.  The conference served to drive home that there are around 19 million bilaterally blind people in the world and that the best way to tackle this is to multiply ourselves by training others.  I was surprised to hear that results of cataract surgery throughout much of the world is stunningly less successful than expected.  One slide we saw several times reported that blindness follows cataract surgery in many parts of the world 30-40% of the time!  My understanding is that many ophthalmologists on the front lines know they have very poor results of cataract surgery and are understandably reluctant to do large volumes of cataract surgery due to poor results.  This results in an increasing backlog of needy patients.  The model of providing quality cataract care that we hope to follow is to become skilled at MSICS and to train local surgeons.  There was a track called Being the Best Trainer You Can Be which went through the thought processes needed to accomplish transferring this skill,  keeping in mind the importance of good communication with those in charge of the OR, gaining the trust of the nurses and surgical assistants and to successfully ensure common understanding of sterile technique.   While I currently am not yet experienced enough to train others in this procedure, I will now pay more attention to what is happening around me in the OR (rather than living in my 'bubble') since successful outcomes require that I be aware of all elements contributing to successful cataract surgery.  
I am thankful to those who organized this meeting and I am prayerfully seeking the Lord as to what my response to this problem should be.  My first step was to join Global Sight Alliance as a supporting member and I encourage all others to do so.  I find I can't stop talking about what I learned to my staff and my patients and I am praying for guidance and direction as I look forward to the next step in my journey serving the Lord and the blind by developing and then sharing MSICS skills.
Steve Fox MD

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