QEH GETS $166,000 MACHINE TO DETECT CONDITION THAT CAN LEAD TO BLINDNESS

Barbados’ main public health care facility, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is now better able to diagnose keratoconus, a progressive vision impairment of the cornea that can lead to blindness.

Recently, the QEH's Ophthalmology Department received a <strong>Pentacam Tomography Machine</strong> funded by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank on behalf of <strong>Keratoconus Barbados</strong>, a patient support and advocacy group, aimed at promoting awareness as well as raising funds to improve the island's capacity to diagnose and treat the condition.

Recently, the QEH’s Ophthalmology Department received a Pentacam Tomography Machine funded by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank on behalf of Keratoconus Barbados, a patient support and advocacy group, aimed at promoting awareness as well as raising funds to improve the island’s capacity to diagnose and treat the condition.

During the official handing over ceremony, the hospital’s Director of Medical Services, Mr. Anthony Harris explained that while traditionally the disease was categorised as rare, its prevalence depended on geographic location and anecdotal evidence suggested that it was common enough in Barbados to have a significant health impact on Barbadians.

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(FAR LEFT) “Locally, we have been able to determine that the age of onset is usually in adolescence and progression of the disease spans from the early teenage years into early to mid-adulthood. This means that keratoconus impacts on the well-being and productivity of young Barbadians,” he said.

The BBD $166,000 ophthalmology machine, equipped with the latest technology in eye examination, performs 3D investigations of the eye and in addition to keratoconus can detect other vision problems including cataract and glaucoma. CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Chief Executive Officer Colette Delaney said the bank was pleased to be a part of the initiative and would be funding the maintenance of the machine for the next three years. “We learnt this morning that this supposedly rare disease was turning out to be not so rare after all, at least not in Barbados and in the region,” Delaney said.

She added that the decision to fund the machine was a no-brainer for the bank’s community outreach arm, ComTrust. “Not so much because of the impact on our own staff members, but because everybody on the Committee recognises importance of good eyesight to the quality of one’s life and we relish the opportunity to make a real difference to people, who in many cases, are really young and whose lives are just beginning to blossom and would be negatively impacted by the disease.”

(SEATED AT MACHINE AS PATIENT) <strong>Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic welcomed having the machine at the QEH. He said</strong>, "As a public healthcare provider, the QEH is establishing centres of excellence in certain specialist areas of care, one of which is ophthalmology. I am pleased to state that the Department of Ophthalmology of the QEH is the only eye care facility of its kind within the Caribbean and has garnered a stellar reputation for the delivery of superior care to its patients. Presently, the department provides specialist care in paediatric, glaucoma, neurosurgical and ocuplastics care, which makes it the only eye care facility in the region to offer this range of specialised ophthalmic care and I think that this is something that we in this country should be very proud of..."

(SEATED AT MACHINE AS PATIENT) Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic welcomed having the machine at the QEH. He said, “As a public healthcare provider, the QEH is establishing centres of excellence in certain specialist areas of care, one of which is ophthalmology. I am pleased to state that the Department of Ophthalmology of the QEH is the only eye care facility of its kind within the Caribbean and has garnered a stellar reputation for the delivery of superior care to its patients. Presently, the department provides specialist care in paediatric, glaucoma, neurosurgical and ocuplastics care, which makes it the only eye care facility in the region to offer this range of specialised ophthalmic care and I think that this is something that we in this country should be very proud of…”

President of Keratoconus Barbados, Roseanne Myers was similarly pleased. She said: “We are very fortunate that, in the Year 2020, we have a situation where the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has the Pentacam where we can set about our objective to ensure that Barbadians who cannot afford it, are able to come to the hospital, get a diagnosis and we hope, very shortly, to be able to get the condition treated. The second piece of equipment that we want to provide is a Corneal Cross-linking machine, which means that a child diagnosed young on the Pentacam can be monitored, but if they need that surgery to halt that progression and the bulging of the eye, they can get it free at the hospital and that is our objective,” she said.

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