In 2013, God gave me a vision for an ophthalmology simulation center for global health–I now appreciate the story of Noah building the Ark. God’s directives are sometimes monumental because he cares so deeply about the details.
The magnitude: In 1995 when I finished my ophthalmology training, we had 280 million blind in the world. Today, there are 1 billion and 85% is preventable. Nine out of 10 people lack access to surgical care in the world and most live in low income countries. So I always wondered why Matthew 11:4 said, Jesus answered, “Go back and tell John what you are hearing and seeing: the blind can see…” But, this takes work for the blind to see everywhere in the world.
In late 2015, I left home in Michigan with the support of my family. I acquired a masters in public health from Johns Hopkins in 2016 and spent 27 trips back and forth to Liberia working on Ebola.
During this time, I spent a year with Fulbright in 2018 teaching ophthalmology to ophthalmic nurses in Liberia (center photo).
Training surgeons is very similar to training pilots. It needs to be methodical and consistent. Repetition. Then you have to practice for the 1% of scenarios that account for anatomy, illness and things that are unexpected. Mechanical failure and weather for pilots to name a few.
VRMagic (now Haag-Streit) helped us develop global health software starting in 2017 and this was completed in October 2020. You can read about my Ophthalmic Simulation Center vision and interview here.
In 2018, we opened a small clinical practice in Scottsdale, Arizona– Global Retina Institute –as a foundation for future students to understand delivery of ophthalmology care. In 2019, we added a clinical research arm focused on unmet needs in ophthalmology. COVID struck in 2020 and we recognized the greater importance of training US and international doctors to be expert surgeons as ophthalmology care was deemed elective and surgical cases were stopped. Future residents and fellows trained in the US would now perform less surgery. Only 30% of US programs have access to simulation.
We now need to raise $1,000,000 in capital. Like Nicole Nordeman sings, “I want to leave a legacy.” What’s your legacy? Vision is more than eyesight.