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July 2006

Providing Post-Hurricane Eye Care

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Copyright 2006 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2006

Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124(7):1067. doi:10.1001/archopht.124.7.1067-b

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in US history. Concerns were raised about the large-scale health threat that faced the people who lived through this event and those who would later be housed in close quarters in shelters around the country.

During a volunteer mission to a shelter in Lafayette, La, I set up a temporary eye clinic in the Cajun Dome. I began seeing patients, expecting the worst. To my surprise, most patients simply requested new prescription eyeglasses or came to obtain glaucoma medication refills. I obtained equipment and supplies from a local optometrist who also made the prescription lenses and placed them in refurbished frames free of charge. During my days in the shelter, I saw and treated a list of only 10 disease processes: (1) refractive error (requiring prescription spectacles); (2) presbyopia (requiring reading glasses only); (3) contact lens–related issues; (4) cataracts; (5) glaucoma medication refills; (6) dysfunctional tear syndrome; (7) eye allergies; (8) meridional amblyopia; (9) retinopathy (hypertensive and diabetic); and (10) eyelid trauma.

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