While the vast majority of presidential wannabes converge upon the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines this week, ophthalmologist and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has gone to Haiti on a medical mission with the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah.
No helicopters, no cotton candy and no speeches for the Duke trained eye doctor, instead Dr. Paul will be doing eye surgeries on the needy population in the poorest country in the Americas.
“We kind of suggested it,” said Paul in an interview. “There was talk about Haiti being in great need, and it’s fairly close to the United States. Haiti, unfortunately, is famous for a long history of problems.”
“In our country, when you have cataracts, they’re relatively easy to fix,” he said. “The people we will treat in Haiti — many of them will be completely blind. There’s less medical access there.”
In addition to performing sight saving cataract surgeries, Dr Paul said they’ll be training local doctors. “Local surgeons will get some training, and they’ll use that training,” Paul noted. “The goal is not for Americans to keep coming down and doing it, but for Haitians to do more of it themselves.”
Teach a man to fish…
The Moran Eye Center says a cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye—an area that is normally transparent. The clouding prevents light rays from passing through the lens and focusing on the retina. Over time, the cataract may grow larger, making it difficult to see. Symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, faded colors, double or multiple images, and poor night vision. Cataracts are almost inevitable in older adults, but often occur in younger individuals in developing countries due to factors like trauma, high UV index, and poor diet.
Cataract surgery involves removing and replacing the cloudy lens. It is one of the safest and most commonly performed operations around the world.
Dr. Rand Paul owned his own ophthalmology practice and performed eye surgery for 18 years in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
In 1995, Rand founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic, an organization that provides eye exams and surgery to needy families and individuals. Rand is a former president and 17 year member of Lions Clubs International, which is dedicated to preserving sight by providing eyeglasses and surgery to the less fortunate around the world.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today