Believe and See operates mobile cataract clinic in Africa
Special to The Montior
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–ETMC is donating an ambulance unit to Believe and See, an organization founded by Tyler resident Lewis Swann.
The ambulance will travel on a ship to The Republic of Togo in West Central Africa later this year.
Believe and See restores sight with cataract surgeries to 100 people each month in remote villages and provides blindness prevention education, agriculture training and spiritual support.
“We are so pleased ETMC is able to provide one of our ambulance units to assist people in Africa and provide a mobile cataract clinic to rural areas,” ETMC President and Chief Executive Officer Elmer G. Ellis said.
“Our teal and white ambulances are seen in East Texas, Waco and Pasadena, and now you will find one of our units on the roads in Togo.”
“This donation of a former EMS unit represents a unique opportunity for ETMC to impact healthcare half-way around the world.”
“Togo has 30,000 children and adults blinded by cataracts,” Swann said.
“Malnutrition, contaminated water and the lack of education contribute to the development of cataracts. Half of the blind live too far from a doctor to receive medical care,” he added.
“This gift of an ambulance from ETMC will be very helpful to our organization in being able to bring Believe and See’s mobile cataract clinic to villages all over the country.”
“This ambulance was no longer in service, and we were able to prepare the unit and get it ready for this journey to Africa,” ETMC EMS Vice President Ron Schwartz said.
“Our team is thrilled to be part of this exciting mission to bring sight for the people of Togo,” he added.
According to the National Eye Institute, a cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision.
Most cataracts are related to aging and researchers suspect smoking, alcohol, diabetes and prolonged exposure to sunlight may contribute to its development.
Cataracts can affect a person’s vision by reducing the sharpness of the image reaching the retina or creating a cloudy area of the lens that makes vision become blurry.
Cataracts can be treated with surgery by replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial lens. Other treatments include new eyeglasses, anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying lenses.
“The mobile unit, provided by ETMC, will travel thousands of miles each year taking surgeons to remote villages to deliver the gift of vision,” Swann said.
“It’s an amazing outreach to be able to remove cataracts and have a mother see her child for the first time or a young child be able to see his family and community. Some of the adults have not seen anything in decades and in Togo, blindless can make it difficult to survive,” Swann added.
ETMC team members and some of their church congregations donated more than 400 pairs of sunglasses for patients to wear after the surgery.