Developments since July 2008
There is now an average of 10,000 Outpatients appointments (25% without charge) and 1,000 surgeries per year (50% without charge) at the Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Centre. There has been a steady increase in the numbers of patients seen every year. Overall progress has therefore been significant, particularly for non-paying patients.
On the first anniversary of the inauguration of the MHCECC in 2009, the paediatric ocular oncology facility was opened. This extension of service provision at the MHCECC centralises children's eye cancer facilities, maximising convenience and minimising distress for patients and their families, who usually travel long distances to visit the Centre. Since then hundreds of children have been treated for eye cancer. In many cases, vision was restored and lives were saved, and every child who had an eye removed to save life was cosmetically rehabilitated.
In June, 2010 a RetCam Shuttle was acquired for the MHCECC, one of only eight in India at the time. This scanner detects pathological conditions of the retina, particularly in premature and underweight babies whose retinal blood vessels are not completely formed at birth, called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). Only timely detection and laser treatment can prevent irreversible blindness. Since 2010 the MHCECC RetCam has been used to screen over 850 pre-term babies, and 230 have had their sight saved.
The mobile unit makes it possible to capitalise on the portable RetCam Shuttle, transporting it to maternity units and clinics in the district surrounding the Institute, and bringing babies and their families for the necessary laser treatment. This vehicle is also invaluable in taking optometrists with eyesight screening equipment and free glasses to children in remote rural areas and urban slums.
In 2011 the MHMT Operating Room was upgraded with an additional anaesthesia station adapted for babies and young children, resulting in a 50% increase in examinations under anaesthesia, which is important in children who are too young to obey instructions. There is a new baby warmer that enables safer, cost-cutting anaesthesia and a mounted microscopic camera with accompanying computer and software. All this has resulted in an approximate 10% increase in surgeries and other benefits.
Corneal conditions result in 4% of child blindness in India. Cornea transplant is now the treatment of choice for a carefully selected group of children, for which top quality corneal tissue is essential. This is ensured by use of the £20,000 specular microscope donated by the MHMT in 2011. An additional donation was used for specialist training and testing. Approximately 15 paediatric corneal transplants are performed every year in the MHCECC and increasing use of the microscope will lead to a higher transplant success rate.
In 2012 the MHMT donated £16,000 - the cost of a dedicated Glaucoma Unit for the scientific management of childhood glaucoma and a substantial increase in paediatric patients is now anticipated in the only reliable facility of its kind in the state of Odisha. Glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve is progressively and irreversibly damaged by increased pressure inside the eyeball, leading to blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment is resulting in successful management.
In 2013 the MHMT raised £50,000 to support an MHCECC consultant to receive advanced training abroad for one year. The wide-ranging benefits to the MHCECC's 500-mile catchment area include improved service delivery, raised standards of in-house training and research, and enhancement of the Centre's international relevance.
LVPEI identified MHCECC retina specialist, Dr Tapas Ranjan Padhi, to take up a year's fellowship at the University of Michigan, USA with Professor John Heckenlively and Professor Cagri Besirli. Dr Tapas undertook the Fellowship in July 2014. Dr Das, Vice Chair of L V Prasad Eye Institute and specialist in diseases of the retina and vitreous membrane, says: “Dr Tapas Padhi greatly impressed his mentors in the United States and he has already contributed papers and articles as a result of the opportunity of studying with some of the most eminent people in his field, globally. There is no doubt the experience in his Fellowship year adds significantly to his status as a practitioner, a teacher and a researcher.” Read more here.
Eyesight screening in schools, slums and rural areas is a priority. In the last year, more than 500 children were screened for refractive error (long- or short-sightedness) and other conditions in 11 slum schools. 35 pairs of spectacles were provided free of cost by the pupils of Copthall School, London through the MHMT.
The total transferred to the MHCECC within the L V Prasad Eye Institute, Bhubaneswar, since 2008 is £385,000.
Dr Taraprasad Das, Director of the L V Prasad Eye Institute, Bhubaneswar, says: "Every time a child is treated at the Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Centre her memory is invoked and her spirit lives on through those children whose sight is restored in her name."
We will continue to bring you news of developments.
The MHCECC waiting room
The RetCam Shuttle
The multi-purpose mobile unit
The OR anaesthesia station
The specular microscope
Sight screening in the slums