KINGSTON –– Some 300 Portland residents benefited from free medical attention, courtesy of Dr Gerry Leinweber and his colleagues from Charity Canadian Vision Care, who were recently in the parish capital at the invitation of the Port Antonio Lions Club.
The group has been visiting Jamaica twice a year since its formation in 1981.
Leinweber says they have been seeing a number of patients presenting with glaucoma.
“More persons go blind because there is no clue to the patient that anything is going wrong, and we are doing our best to work with the local medical authority. But there is a tremendous shortage of eye doctors; and certainly here in the eastern end of Jamaica, from what we can see, there is a greater number of people with a greater need,” he said.
Leinweber said they also treated several children, some of whom were found to be suffering from glaucoma.
“We check each child and we find glaucoma at a rate of eight to ten more than back home; but it’s because of the black skin, as there is more pigment and a greater risk,” he explained.
He explained that poor vision affected children’s ability to learn in school.
“If they can’t see, they can’t learn, as 80 per cent of their learning is through vision. We try to identify those so we can get it fixed; so they can learn and the country can improve.”
Meanwhile, Leinweber — who noted his team had been in eye care for more than 37 years — explained that they worked with local partners who were the ones who had identified where the greatest needs were.
The team provides the doctors and the equipment, while the Lions Club sees to identifying the venue for the clinic to be held as well as accomodations for the members of the group.
Arlene Harris, member of the Port Antonio Lions, said the response had been very good.
“We have found that a lot of persons are in need of eye care as this is a vital service,” she said.