PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday December 23, 2016 – You can call him Dr Santa Claus!
Trinidadian ophthamologist Dr Ronnie Bhola is not bearing gifts from the North Pole, but in Port of Spain he’s delivering the gift of improved sight for cataract patients for the fourth straight year.
“December is the month of Christmas, a time of giving and perpetual hope. It is the perfect time to start thinking about helping those persons in need,” the 48-year-old doctor and UWI lecturer who specializes in vitreous and retina surgery told the Trinidad Guardian.
Yesterday, he and his team conducted the free surgeries valued at $250,000 at the Caribbean Vitreous & Retina Surgery Limited.
He said “compassion and empathy” drives the initiative called the Gift of Sight every year, while expressing concern that too many patients could not access costly eye treatment.
“I have seen, and continue to see a number of persons struggling with everyday life, disabled to live independently because of visual impairments. Most cannot afford to pay for surgery, which they need. It is tremendously disheartening,“ he lamented.
The patients who were carefully selected after being referred by an ophthalmologist for surgery, included those who had cataracts in both eyes, who could not afford the procedure and had been on a hospital waiting list for long time.
Dr Bhola said the results surpassed the substantial money normally paid for such procedures: “When a patient who previously needed support to walk into the office has had surgery and can now be independent—that is a feeling like no other, tremendously rewarding.”