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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Gulf Coast Reflection, Sept. 23, 2005

Doctor performing glaucoma medicine refills

Thursday had us returning to Gonzalez, Louisiana at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. Now that we have a new shipment of glasses from Angel Perez at Bascom Palmer’s Optical Shop we are helping many people see again. We handed out 20-30 pairs of glasses, most of which were for reading. A mother was nearly brought to tears after we provided her and her two kids with glasses they had lost along with the rest of their home.

We’ve been hearing many personal stories of survival from our patients. It is amazing to listen to these stories directly from the person who lived through it. Most of the people we meet are holding up remarkably well given that they must start their lives all over again. They do not know where they will be in another week, much less a year, simply living day by day.

Again, we found many glaucoma suspects and referred them to the Louisiana State University clinics in Baton Rouge. We’ve handed out hundreds of glaucoma medicines the past few days to many patients unable to get refills through their doctor or unable to pay for them.

Today, we referred a 34-year-old female with decreased vision, proptosis and a swollen optic nerve to the local hospital for imaging and management. We also found an elderly woman with a suspicious conjunctival growth who we sent to LSU. In being the only medical personal around at times, we’ve made some occasional diversions from the eye. One young lady had a large tooth abscess causing the entire right side of her face to swell. We also got the pleasure of examining the feet of a 40 year old male who we diagnosed as having plantar fascieitis.

Interestingly, the Lamar Dixon Expo is also the regional animal shelter and hundreds of volunteers are taking care of a broad assortment of cats, dogs, birds- even horses. The animals are sheltered in the county fairgrounds and are very well taken care of, well fed and treated by a large staff of volunteer veterenarians, as well as organizations like the Animal Planet television network, as well as local spay and neuter mobile vehicles. There is even a wild animal rescue center established.

Animal Planet vehicleHorse

We have lost the luxury of internet access from the Vision Van due to a touchy satellite system, but are watching Hurricane Rita closely. If necessary we may pack up and move to a Mississippi shelter for safety. We hope these unfortunate people do not have to go through another disaster likeKatrina.

Each day brings new eye opening experiences and stories. We are truly grateful to be helping out these people whose positive attitudes are a testament to the human spirit.

Mike Kelley

mkelley@med.miami.edu