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Eye doctor brings skills to Kenya

Glaucoma isn’t common in children here, but in Kenya it is the No. 2 cause of blindness and in most developing countries it is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.

Glaucoma isn’t common in children here, but in Kenya it is the No. 2 cause of blindness and in most developing countries it is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.

That is why Dr. Karim Damji, who was actually born in Kenya, is currently in Africa. The ophthalmology professor at the University of Alberta is currently overseas restoring vision to adults, children and babies suffering from glaucoma.

Glaucoma is generally treated here before symptoms get severe, but in most cases overseas, surgery is the only option.

The irreversible blindness occurs “because the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain actually dies,” said Damji in a phone interview from Ethiopia.

But patients aren’t the only ones benefiting from Damji’s visit.

For the last two years, Damji has been bringing doctors from Africa to the university on a fellowship program. After Damji works with them in teaching hospitals, they come to Edmonton for three or four months, then are sent back home. Some make multiple trips, and Damji takes followup trips as well.

“They’re growing in their own environment, not away for a whole year, just short bits,” he said.

He will be in India after Christmas, and has already spent some time in Dubai and Kenya.

 
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