Keratoconus Barbados – A support and advocacy group for the rare eye condition launches awareness & fundraising effort

Barbados will see the launch of a support and advocacy group for the rare condition keratoconus, on the 3rd of February at Radisson Aquatica Resort at 3 pm.

The event is free of cost for interested persons. Keratoconus is a progressive, rare eye condition that causes visual impairment with blurred vision and high sensitivity to light among other symptoms. It cannot be corrected by glasses and only recent advances now offer a method of halting the progression. It is mainly seen in teenagers and young people in their twenties and can progress quickly once started. No research has been done but it appears that Barbados has a higher than normal incidence.

According to founder of Keratoconus Barbados, Roseanne Myers, who has had keratoconus for 38 years, “I am energized to raise awareness, funds, and offer personal support to those who need moral and financial assistance through this initiative. Fortunately we have a core group of persons including Dwane Goddard, Jan Phillips, Debra Johnson King, Paul Parris, Mandy Cummins, Wayne Elliot, Dr. Alanna Myers and Rev. Dr. Michael and Mrs. Michelle Clarke who reached out very early at the start of the initiative to also offer support and ideas on how to build the advocacy effort.”

Mrs. Myers went on to say “Dr. Nigel Barker who is an Ophthalmologist and Consultant Corneal Surgeon at the Queen Elisabeth Hospital, supported the idea of a patient advocate group when I first mentioned it three years ago. After the initial activity around World Keratoconus day 2017, which included raising awareness on Good Morning Barbados, efforts went dormant, however Dr. Barker and other vision care professionals have raised concern that more and younger persons are presenting with this condition, and help is required as many patients seen cannot afford basic contact lenses required.”

Though keratoconus is supposed to be a rare condition this effort to bring together patient advocates and vision care professionals, is critical to bring the spotlight on the keratoconus community in Barbados. We need answers to the questions regarding what causes keratoconus, how many persons in Barbados actually have it and if higher than the normal average here in Barbados, why is that so? Another critical question is what happens to young people diagnosed each week whose parents are unable to afford the special contact lenses or the procedure to halt the progression? Hopefully this can be addressed by this advocacy group Keratoconus Barbados.

Mr. David Kirton President of the Barbados Association of Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, also has observed that the number of cases showing up seem to be above what would be normally expected according to the literature and based on his personal experience outside Barbados. This association is also partnering with the patient advocates on the launch of the Keratoconus Barbados initiative.

The objective of the launch is to get persons who have keratoconus to join the community as patient advocates, and to donate their time and energy to help others with awareness of the condition. An overview of the condition by Dr. Barker will provide valuable insight and better understanding of keratoconus for all in attendance to spread the word. It will provide a chance to hear from others with the condition as they tell their story of the keratoconus journey, challenges and coping methods. Fund raising job #1 is to strengthen the capability of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by the purchase of the special equipment required to allow early detection and monitoring of the condition. Our target is BDS$200,000 for equipment and preventative maintenance with donations paid directly to Q.E.H.

The meeting starts at 3 pm on the 3rd of February hosted at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Aquatic gap. who is one of the sponsors and all are welcome.

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