U.S. Military Doctors Treat Honduran Cataract Patients

U.S. Military Doctors Treat Honduran Cataract Patients

By Dialogo
February 15, 2011

U.S. military doctors, working with local health officials, restored the sight of 200 Hondurans during a week-long ophthalmology medical readiness training exercise in Choluteca at Hospital del Sur.

The U.S. Southern Command Medical Readiness Training Exercise program is a U.S. military engagement and training effort in the region, giving U.S. military health care personnel the opportunity to have a positive impact on thousands of people while receiving invaluable deployment training.

During this exercise, Joint Task Force-Bravo’s Medical Element personnel provided surgeries to selected Honduran patients who suffered from cataracts and strabismus, a disorder in which the two eyes do not line up in the same direction.

“This is our tenth year for this mission in Choluteca.” Lt. Col. (Dr.) Darrel Carlton, head surgeon said during a press conference in Choluteca Feb. 2. “We do about 200 per year… so around 2,000 people have been affected directly by this mission.”

Colonel Carlton went on to explain how the patients are chosen and what conditions are treated.

“So far on this year’s mission, we have screened 500 patients and we’re doing 30 surgeries per day. Cataracts are a common cause of blindness and the primary condition treated. Essentially, we’re taking a person who’s blind and enabling them to see and we’re doing 20 to 25 of those cases every day.”

“We are also doing strabismus surgeries. This is a condition in which the patient’s eyes are turned in the wrong direction. Because for this surgery patients have to undergo general anesthesia, we can only do four to five of these cases per day,” said Colonel Carlton.

Col. Gregory Reilly, JTF-B commander thanked the people of Choluteca for their support and their friendship.

“Joint Task Force-Bravo has been (in Honduras) for nearly 30 years and our relationship with Honduran people is very close,” he said. “We will do everything we can to continue this mission here in Choluteca.”

Hernan Vindel, hospital administrator, concluded the press conference expressing his thanks.

“JTF-B, thank you. Thanks to the government of the U.S. for the invaluable support,” he said. “Our doors are open; we’ll be here and we’ll be expecting you. Your work is really important to us, we thank you and may God bless you.”