Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Loan from Japanese government, NHF helps JSB Vision Centre

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Sandra Harris, Vision Centre coordinator shows off the opthalmology equipment at the centre.
Conrad Harris, (left) executive director of Jamaica Society for the Blind, and Sandra Harris, Vision Centre coordinator, speak with journalists on Embassy of Japan/ JICA press tour, about the functioning of the Vision Centre.
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Operators of the JSB Vision Centre at 111 1/2 Old Hope Road in St Andrew are grateful that the Japanese government has afforded them the opportunity to offer well-needed low-cost vision services to Jamaicans with various eye problems.

Through the Japanese government, roughly $11 million was provided, along with $7 million from the National Health Fund, for the construction of a two-storey structure that opened a little over a year ago.

Since opening, the centre has provided services, at minimal cost, to around 2,000 Jamaicans, according to the centre's coordinator, Sandra Harris, who was speaking with journalists recently on a press tour organised by the Japanese Embassy in St Andrew.

"I am truly grateful for the assistance. This (structure) is where the outreach extends from, to meet persons in the field, in their homes and communities. From there, we detect what is happening, and I can tell you, that the level of refractive errors, from what we are seeing, over 70 per cent of the persons screened have some sort of visual impairment."

Harris said that sometimes the problems they detect are caused by diabetes or they identify glaucoma in persons walking around with the disease who weren't aware that they had it.

The centre does not conduct any intrusive operations on the eyes, but for those seeking diagnoses, the centre is a recommended place to visit.

"We do have minimal fees, so it really is not free. But if somebody comes and doesn't really have the means, we would consider looking into the case. We do not do surgery here. When we come up on a diagnosis, like a retinal detachment, they would be referred to the University Hospital or Kingston Public Hospital (KPH). With regards to cataracts, we would refer them to KPH or the Cuban eye doctors for treatment. We pretty much diagnose, monitor, and treat especially quite a number of our patients for glaucoma," she said.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com