Help Is On The Way Ministries

P.O. Box 360264
Milpitas, CA 95036
Contact: (510)299-7032
Africa: 233-544-717-852 
            233-544-717-854
e-mail: hiotwm@hiotwm.org

 

 

 Restoring sight to the blind

 

Past Medical Missions:

 

 

In Ghana much of the blindness is curable by surgery.  There are only 40 ophthalmologists serving 20 million people.  The need is overwhelming.

Although cataracts are the leading cause of reversible blindness, there are many other eye diseases that are treatable:

  • Glaucoma is extremely prevalent in Africa and often presents when the person notices they can no longer see in on eye.  The damage is usually caused by high pressure in the eye, which is painless.  Therefore without proper screening programs, the patients always come in with advanced disease.  By importing the Argon Laser we can treat many of these patients early. 
  • Trauma is a major cause of morbidity.  Because the distances are long and clinic staffing is variable, injuries that may have been repairable are now infected and difficult to salvage. 
  • River Blindness is caused by an organism called onchocerciasis.  This worm invades the body from a bite from a certain fly.  The adult worms mate having millions of offspring that invade the body and destroy the retina, causing blindness.
  • Pterygium are large fleshy growths that cause inflammation, and irritation at early stages.  At advanced stages they can cover the pupil and can cause terrible visual loss if they are not surgically removed.  They are very common in areas where UV light exposure is high.

Having a person go blind, especially during working age, is a devastating financial burden for the family.  Fisherman and farmers can no longer see to make a living.  A family member (usually a child) must stay home to take care of the blind individual.  The person who was not born blind is severely handicapped, prone to accidents and trauma, further stressing the family and not infrequently markedly decreasing their life expectancy.  A 30 minute operation can break this cycle of poverty and premature death

People travel for days because they hear something can be done when Help Is One The Way Ministries (HIOTWM) sends a medical mission to Ghana. They are usually lead in by a young boy having them hold one end of a short stick.  Many of the individuals examined are blind in both eyes from cataract.  Many can only see light and have been blind for years. The patience and dignity these people display is humbling.

     

Our ability to do outreach and bring in patients from rural areas has dramatically declined because the vehicles that were previously used are no longer reliable.  The clinics in Cape Coast and Tema are struggling.  It has been extremely difficult to retain staff and keep the equipment updated.  They have examination space, operating space, and hundreds of patients.  They DO NOT have any equipment to provide these services for eye patients.  This equipment and supplies (Mobile Medical Mission Kit) have to be brought in by our team. 

       
 

The people involved with HIOTWM currently pay all their traveling expenses in addition to volunteering their time.  They work for 12 to 14 hours everyday in the clinic and operating rooms. The best part of their day is watching the nurses remove the eye patch.  After a 30 minute operation people can see for the first time in years. The patients can hardly believe what has happened to them.  For many it is a miracle.

       

There is a desperate need in West Africa for quality eye care.  Currently the eye care network is disjointed with one university center that has dedicated doctors but is severely understaffed and short of necessary equipment, and some Ghanaian physicians in private practice.  There are religious based institutions with eye clinics, but they are always short of funds, staff, and equipment.

HIOTWM
has an opportunity to make a permanent contribution to the people of Ghana by building a Center for Excellence in Eye Care. Through our combined effort we can set up a system that will help thousands of people in Ghana.

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more eye care photos