Dr. Dan The Miracle Worker

The London Vision Clinic’s Thanksgiving Celebration 2009 provided many reasons to say “thank you”.

The party was held at the Dali Universe exhibition just beside the iconic London Eye and patients and their partners could admire the works of the eccentric Spanish painter as they mingled with the 35 members of staff and compared notes and experiences with each other.

Dr Dan and his saxophone, together with fellow jazz musicians from the 606 Club where he performs once a month ( www.606club.co.uk ), provided the live entertainment.

During his speech, Dan pointed out that most of his audience (all those former patients who had undergone Laser Eye Surgery, or those who needed to wear glasses or contact lenses) suffered from a genetic defect. Two thousand years ago (before glasses or contact lenses), this disability would have had a devastating impact . Even suffering from the inevitable loss of sight due to age, meant leading a severely limited life with all the difficulties resulting from the inability to work.

Even today -in some parts of the world – this is still the situation.

When I visited Sri Lanka after the Tsunami, I travelled with gifts of every description collected for those living in tents in the hastily thrown together refugee camps. Of all the items, reading glasses were by far the most popular. These people had lost everything – all their possessions had been swept away or destroyed by the giant waves. Without the ability to see, any hope at rebuilding any sort of life was impossible. For instance, the textile industry has always been crucial to the Sri Lankan economy and now widowed women needed good eye sight to support their families by sewing.

I will never forget meeting a woman who was about my age. With tears spilling down her cheeks, she thanked me for the glasses which would allow her to read the instructions on the packets of baby milk. Her daughter and son-in-law had been killed and she was caring for her orphaned grandchild. She didn’t care that the frames were ugly and didn’t suit her (I had bought up scores of pairs of unpopular designs). For her, the glasses literally made the difference between being able to make a baby a bottle of milk or the child going hungry.

So if a pair of old fashioned readers can have such an impact on someone’s life in a disadvantaged part of the world; just imagine the miracle of Laser Eye Surgery.

Dr Dan and his team at the London Vision Clinic are not only “imagining” it; they have a plan in place to provide a hospital in Nepal with a Laser Eye Surgery facility. This will include donating a new Excimer laser machine and the training project for local doctors to use it.

Over the coming months, I expect to bring you more news and updates on this amazing project and ways we can – if we choose to- become involved.