Japan Reflection April 18, 2011
Thank you very much for your utmost kindness to allow use of the Vision Van to help the rescue activity at Tohoku area of Japan. As one of the board members of the Japan Ophthalmological Society, I would like to express my sincere thanks to you.
Following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the ocean floor moved 24 meters east and the mainland has also shifted about 3 meters, and the Tsunami with a tidal height of 15 meters (about the height of the 4th floor of a building) hit 1.5 million people living on the northeastern 400 km coast of Japan. The full extent of this devastating earthquake disaster is still unknown, but now, four weeks after the earthquake, we know 12,500 people have died and about 15,000 more people are lost probably at the bottom of the sea. The number of refugees had decreased considerably from the initial 400,000, however still 160,000 people cannot find their homes.
One sad news is the reality that many people with low vision were too late to escape because of poor eyesight, and the ratio of people with low vision people among the refugees is very low. Many of the otherwise healthy citizens lost glasses, contact lens or medical care system, and are worried about disability in vision. They cannot watch TV or read the paper to gather any information. I hope the Vision Van will help these people. Another concern is misgivings about Fukushima nuclear plant break down. The reactor’s cooling system was broken, the fuel rods have partially melted and high level radioactive and contaminated water have leaked. That too has threatened the inhabitants of this area.
Despite this disaster, many people stand up to revive their country. That is the hope, and I believe in Japan.
Etsuo Chihara, MD
Board of Directors, Japanese Ophthalmological Association
Director, Sensho-kai Eye Institute