The best part of the trip by far was getting to know the people of Jamaica and being able to help them. We didn't just see patients and send them out. We played games with some of them, had meals with some of them, and actually got to know them a little bit. They are very good people. The worse thing about the trip was our delays that kept us from getting there [the St. Louis tornado that damaged the airport]...
As far as cases go, we saw a lot of interesting things: toxoplasmosis, optic neuritis, end stage glaucoma, lots and lots of cataracts, lots of pterygia, EVERYONE had dry eye, strabismus, traumatic cataract, ARMD, and that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Keep in mind this was seen without DFE, slit lamp, fundus lenses, etc. I'm sure there was a lot more pathology that we just weren't able to pick up because of lack of tools. We brought trial frames, trial lenses, our diagnostics (i.e. ret, o scope, a 20D lens, pen lights, paper charts, near cards, occluders, ret bars), and I think that was it. The only problem we ran into was that our handles died and we had to use batteries which is worthless because the light isn't as bright...One of the things I would do differently is to bring my handle chargers.
Every moment was a heart warming moment, every patient is grateful as can be as they wait all day to see you. It is an amazing experience. We dispensed roughly 500 glasses, I would assume, and just as many sunglasses. Everyone got a pair of sunglasses with their sRX. Everyone also got artificial tears as well. We actually ran out of those at the end of the trip.
We learned A LOT and our clinical skills have benefited greatly. If possible, send a third year...because a second year will not know how to pick up a lot of the pathology we saw and prescribe the proper medications when necessary. Prior time in clinic is critical before going on this trip without an eye doc..."