The Belize Council for the Visually Impaired will be providing eye surgeries for some fifty to sixty Belizeans with cataracts over the next three days. The team, led by Dr. George Pronesti, started operating on patients since Monday in a two-fold surgery procedure at the National Eye Clinic. The U.S based eye specialists teamed up with the BCVI to help prevent unnecessary visual impairment and blindness that can result from Cataracts. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

A cataract is a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye or in its envelope, varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and blocking the passage of light. This eye condition is one of the number one causes of blindness among Belizeans and can only be treated through surgery.

Carla Musa

Carla Musa, Communications Officer, BCVI

“This program is another service that BCVI provides. We provide services for people who are visually impaired but it can be treated and right now this team is doing cataract surgeries. So we have along list of people who have already been screened through our optometrist section and our ophthalmologist section and who have been diagnosed as having cataract and been put down for surgery so now they are here.”

The BCVI partnered with a team of eye specialists from the U.S to help restore optimal sight to many Belizeans:

George Pronesti

George Pronesti M.D., Ophthalmologist

“Our center in Philadelphia is called Kremer Eye Center, that’s my practice that’s our practice. We have done this before in Ohuaca we’ve gone down and did a mission trip. I actually operated on a guy from Belize; he brought his dad over to me to have surgery and we got to talking and he ask if we’d like to come down to Belize and do surgery so we sort of sponsor we raised money on our own and brought the group down.”

Cataracts typically progress slowly to cause vision loss and are potentially blinding if left untreated, for this reason Tim Budd is going under the knife to remove his cataracts:

Tim Budd, Will Take Cataract Surgery

Tim Budd

“I think they’ve been about two and a half years now and they’ve gotten more severe as the time goes on so it’s gotten to the point now where it’s difficult to read and hard to use the equipment that I work with so I had to do something about it.”

Andrea Polanco

“So you’re going to take surgery today, you expect to be seeing well by tomorrow?”

Tim Budd

“In one eye, we’re only doing one eye at the time so naturally that is good idea so that if something does go wrong you don’t lose both eyes. So hopefully nothing goes wrong, the doctor seems very confident, he has done a lot of these. It is nice to see that there is affordable eye surgery here in Belize for people coming down from the states to help out with that.”

Since Monday, Ophthalmologist Pronesti says that patients have been doing well considering the severity of cataracts they have been removing:

George Pronesti M.D.

“People seem happy; these are very bad cataracts by the standards we’re used to. It’s not like we don’t see these cataracts we just see way less of them. Like every patient has a really bad cataract so the surgery is a little more difficult, people may be a little swollen but they’ll do fine, everyone so far has done very well.”

The team will be in Belize up to Thursday providing eye surgeries at a reduced cost. Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

Dr. George Pronesti, who has twenty-two years experience in the field, is working along with a team of nurses, technicians, anesthesiologists and ophthalmologists.

Channel 5