Dr. Charles Henry Visits Peru on Medical Mission

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.03.06 AMWe are very excited to welcome back ophthalmologist Dr. Charles Henry from his trip to Peru and proud of the great work he and his team accomplished while there.

Dr. Henry traveled with a team of two physicians, two nurses, four interpreters and six vital co-workers to the Andes Mountains to serve six communities, conducting free eye exams and make appointments in Cusco for those with critical needs for eye surgery. Dr. Henry and his team were sponsored by Legend Treks, a non-profit travel company dedicating to educating customers about world needs through extensive travels.

In 2011, Larry Nutt, the director of Legend Treks, asked Dr. Henry to speak at the first International Ophthalmology meeting at UAMS. The following year, Dr. Henry and his son, Robert, accompanied by Mr. Nutt on an exploratory trip Chachora, Peru. This year, Dr. Henry returned to Peru with his wife and team to offer his expertise in eye care to Cachora and the surrounding area.

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During the first week of their trip, the team kicked off their adventure in Cachora, where they screened over 200 patients in three days. The screenings had already been well publicized on the radio and with flyers in the surrounding villages, so the screenings were well attended. Some of the villages they reached were located as high as 13,700 feet high. The team moved to Ollantaytambo to reach those villages high in the mountains. They faced a few days of cold, rainy weather, but it did not keep them from screening 40 more people in Tastayoc.

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 11.03.30 AMThe patients who were screened had common problems, such as far sightedness, which were treated with reading glasses. Several of the patients living at the higher altitudes were suffering from dry eyes and small corneal growths, so the team provided sun glasses and lubricants. Patients with visual impairment due to cataracts were offered cataract surgery in Cusco. A missionary in Cusco, named Dr. Nathan Henson, agreed to perform the surgeries for no cost and the team made arrangement for their transportation, meals and housing.

All together, the team screened 505 patients, identifying 24 who needed surgery to restore their vision. They hope their work will have a lasting effect on the area, not only in their eye health but introducing Dr. Henson as a free resource for eye surgery.


Team member Mike Webster from Cabot sits with a child while Dr. Henry (back) discusses an exam with a patient.

Team member Mike Webster from Cabot sits with a child while Dr. Henry (back) discusses an exam with a patient.

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What is Macular Degeneration and How Can You Prevent It?

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to join Tom Brannon on THV11 to provide awareness and information on macular degeneration, an eye disease common in people 65 and older that can cause you to lose areas of your vision and hinder daily activities such as reading or driving and even lead to blindness.

You can watch the interview below and read more about macular degeneration and how you can prevent it.

What is Macular Degeneration?

The inside of the eye is lined with a delicate tissue called the Retina. This takes all that we see, processes it into a signal and then send this to our brains to tell us what we are seeing. Ninety-nine percent of our vision is concentrated into one VERY small area of the retina called the Macula. In some people the macula can begin to deteriorate.  If this area deteriorates you might notice that there are areas of your vision that are missing or distorted.  This makes it very difficult to read and see faces or even watch television.

How is it treated?

There are two types of macular degeneration:

  • Dry, which is treated with vitamins to prevent progression
  • Wet (fluid leaking into the macula), which is treated by a retina specialist with medicine and sometimes laser to help prevent more damage.

Can you prevent AMD?

It’s important to know your risk factors. If you have any of these risks factors or have noticed symptoms of waviness or blurred vision and are concerned then visit your eye care professional for an exam.

Here are the risk factors that most likely lead to causing macular degeneration:

  • Having a family member with this issue
  • Smoking
  • Age over  60
  • High Blood Pressure or Cholesterol
  • Overweight
  • A diet low in Vitamins A, C, and E

You can also adjust your lifestyle to help reduce your risk. Here are a few tips to fighting off macular degeneration:

  • Eat green vegetables like:
    • spinach
    • kale
    • collard greens
    • broccoli
    • asparagus
  • Stop Smoking
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Watch your cholesterol

It’s important to know what to watch for and how to prevent macular degeneration. It is definitely treatable, so be sure to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you think yours or a loved one’s sight may be affected by macular degeneration.

Keep Your Eyes Safe from the Summer Sun

We all know the importance of protecting our skin from the sun’s UV rays, but what about our eyes?  I recently sat down with THV11’s Ashley Blackstone to discuss the best methods for protecting your eyes from sun damage while still enjoying the warm weather.

1.            Know the risk.

Recent research by the American Academy of Ophthalmology shows that UV radiation from the sun or from other sources of UV light, such as tanning beds, can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts and cancer of the eye.  It’s essential that you protect your eyes whenever you’re outdoors in the daytime, or any time you’re exposed to UV rays from other sources.

2.            Wear sunglasses.

Even if it’s partly cloudy or hazy, sunglasses should be worn whenever you are outside because the sun’s rays pass through clouds or haze.  Be sure to get sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays; they don’t have to be any certain color or cost a lot of money to protect against UV exposure, but the ones that do will say so on their packaging.  UV exposure happens year-round, so keeping your sunglasses close at hand in cold weather is also a must for healthy vision.  And your sunglasses should wrap around to your temples to provide the best protection.

3.            Don’t forget the kids.

Children’s eyes are just susceptible to UV damage as adults.  Your kids need sunglasses for going outdoors too, again with 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection. Try to minimize their exposure (and yours) between 10am and 2pm, when the sun’s UV rays are strongest.

4.            Watch for secondary exposure.

UV rays coming directly from the sun are an obvious threat to healthy vision, but reflected rays are just as dangerous. It’s especially important to shield your eyes when you’re in a reflective environment, like at the lake, the beach or other places where the sun’s rays reflect off of water or sand and into your eyes.

So whether you’re catching rays at the beach, picnicking with your family or simply mowing the lawn, be sure to grab a pair of sunglasses. You can still enjoy the beautiful sunlight, while making sure your eyes stay healthy as long as possible.