Minister Lee: St. Maarten needs to develop ophthalmology care


PHILIPSBURG – “The results of the Rotary/VOSH clearly demonstrates that St. Maarten needs to have its own ophthalmology department. While the statistics are impressive, the stories about how people’s lives are being changed with small simple gestures is just amazing,” said Health Minister Emil Lee during the press briefing on Wednesday, May 18.

The Minister was referring to the free eye examination that took place last week at the White & Yellow cross located in St. Johns Estate. This event was an initiative of the Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity (VOSH) and hosted by the Rotary Club of St. Maarten.

The Minister informed that 1,422 patients received eye exams, and 3,000 pairs of glasses and sunglasses were given away. Some 1/3 of the examination were for children, 1/3 for seniors, and 1/3 were for adults, including teenagers. Because it’s important to protect eyes from UV light, sunglasses were also given out.

There were also a number of cases that came out of the eye exams where patients required immediate follow-up care. “There were patients who were diagnosed with Diabetic Retinopathy, which is a complication as a result of diabetes with high levels of sugar in the blood that damages the back of the eye. If untreated, this can eventually lead to blindness. Also, there was a 16-year-old who was brought to tears after receiving a pair of eyeglasses, which enabled her to see the world as she should,” informed Minister Lee.