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Chinese doctors build an eye institute thanks to Oklahoma City influence and teachings

Doctors at the Dean McGee Eye Institute in Oklahoma City have traveled to China for more than 10 years to help teach doctors in the Sichuan Province. Many eye surgeons in China do not learn the same techniques used in the U.S. about cataracts surgery.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 19, 2012

If you want to make an impact on treatable blindness in a foreign country, you have two main options.

You could take a medical team to the community and perform several surgeries over a week.

“That's a wonderful, wonderful thing to do,” said Dr. Bradley Farris, a professor of ophthalmology at the Dean McGee Eye Institute. “And it will have a very small impact on the community because once you leave, you're done. There's no ongoing help.”

Or you could do what Farris and a team of doctors have been doing for about 10 years.

Farris and other doctors with the Dean McGee Eye Institute have been traveling to China's Sichuan province for more than 10 years to teach and share surgical practices.

About 90 million people live in the province. Of that, an estimated 1 million people are blind from cataracts, a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision, according to the National Eye Institute.

“Blind meaning they can't work, they can't work on a farm, they can't work in the rural areas, they can't work anywhere, and a simple 15-minute cataract procedure could restore vision and restore their ability to work,” Farris said.

In 2001, doctors from the institute traveled to China and saw the need for more surgeons to address treatable blindness in the region.

Originally, the doctors planned the trip simply to perform cataracts surgery for people in the Sichuan Province.

But it became clear that the medical education system in China wasn't training enough surgeons to address the need for ophthalmological care.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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With the economic growth in China, they have the resources to really move the medical system forward in a very meaningful way, and we would like to be part of that, if we can.”

Dr. Gregory Skuta,
president of Dean

McGee Eye Institute


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