Article

Opening Lines

Non-profit hospital provides subsidized eye care

Patients in the Caribbean have access to ophthalmic services and staff via Trinidad Eye Hospital.

Many of us take our eyesight for granted, but the reality of living with poor vision or in total darkness can have a devastating impact on the quality of life for many individuals, their families, and, by extension, society.

In 2017, Dr. Ronnie Bhola, vitreoretinal surgeon and director of Caribbean Vitreous and Retina Surgery Ltd (CVRS), established the Trinidad Eye Hospital (TEH), a not-for-profit organization providing eye-care services to underserved populations in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider region, including Guyana, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Antigua. To ensure that quality eye-care services are accessible to everyone, TEH offers subsidized pricing options to patients for both clinical and surgical eye-care solutions, with CVRS as its majority sponsor.

For this to be successful, it requires the assistance of the entire CVRS/TEH team together with generous sponsors. Ophthalmologists examine and diagnose the patients. Technicians perform preoperative assessment on the patients, including all diagnostic testing, such as biometry and B-scan ultrasonography, where needed. The technicians explain the pre- and postoperative instructions to the patients and their relatives and answer any questions. Among our charitable contributions:

Left to right: Prianka Persad, COT, OSA, OSC; Dr. Ronnie Bhola; Prashanta Persad, COA, OSA, OSC

  • Gift of Sight charity event, held annually in December. Since the inception of this charitable venture in 2013, we have performed more than 200 free cataract surgeries — at no cost to the patients!
  • Vitrectomy surgeries, our Sight Saver initiative, was officially launched in December. At TEH, we see numerous patients losing their vision from retinal detachment, vitreous hemorrhages, and cataract, among other conditions. Thus, the Sight Saver charity was established.
  • Diabetic Eye Screening Program. This is a full screening program that ensures patients would get easy access to our ophthalmologists for care once the they are screened and require treatment. A team of trained staff performs fundus photographs and grades them under the lead of the ophthalmologist. If any change is noted, the graders refer the patient to the ophthalmologist for review and treatment.

Our team is dedicated to using our combined skills and experiences to fulfill TEH’s vision: a world where everyone sees. We believe that we can make a meaningful contribution to the lives of others by providing the very best eye-care services and making them accessible to all. We are committed to providing these services with integrity, compassion, and humility.

This is just the beginning of our story as it unfolds with new and exciting challenges each day. There is so much still to be done. It is both a privilege and a calling to serve patients and the ophthalmology fraternity. We are humbled by this opportunity and look ahead with a deep sense of commitment and purpose to truly make a difference.

In Brief

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced positive 2-year results from the Phase 3 PANORAMA trial evaluating EYLEA (aflibercept) Injection. Among the highlights: EYLEA reduced risk of developing vision-threatening events by 75% after 2 years in non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy patients.

Compulink Healthcare Solutions added new features to its Advantage SMART Practice EHR, including SMART Order, which allows providers to document diagnosis, assessment, order details, and plan with one click from a single screen.

TEPEZZA (teprotumumab-trbw), from Horizon Therapeutics, received FDA approval. It is the first FDA-approved medicine for thyroid eye disease.

The FDA approved VEO Ophthalmics’ CUSTOMFLEX ARTIFICIALIRIS for transitional pass-through payment status. The code for the CUSTOMFLEX ARTIFICIALIRIS is C1839 Iris prosthesis.

The KLAS 2019 Report, from KLAS research, named Modernizing Medicine’s EMA a Top-Rated Ophthalmology EMR System for overall customer experience.

Ms. Persad is the quality assurance and surgical services manager at Caribbean Vitreous & Retina Surgery Ltd. & Trinidad Eye Hospital.