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Sep 20, 2023

First Ever Vitrectomies Being Performed This Week at B.C.V.I.

Vitrectomy – it’s a type of eye surgery that is performed to salvage whatever vision patients, including diabetics, are left with after their eyes have suffered significant damage. This week, these procedures were a first for the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired in Belize City. The organization had received equipment and supplies for the procedure during the COVID era, but the pandemic delayed those surgeries from taking place back then. That was until this week, when the B.C.V.I. staff played support for the surgeons who are here from abroad to conduct the procedures. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The corridors at the B.C.V.I were crowded with eye patients waiting their turn to enter the operating theatre. One of them was Lydia Pernillo from Burrell Boom.


Lydia Pernillo

Lydia Pernillo, Patient, B.C.V.I

“I have diabetes fi long, for 30 years now, more than 30 years. And when I start to have trouble in my eye, well, I look for surgery or for help and I find this place, and then I start to get treatment, and they help me so much.”


The procedures are the first of its kind being performed in Belize. Executive Director of the B.C.V.I, Carla Ayres-Musa says the preparations had long been in the pipeline.


Carla Ayres-Musa

Carla Ayres-Musa, Executive Director, B.C.V.I

“B.C.V.I’s team, along with our international colleagues, has been working this week on a vitrectomy program, which is the first for the new era of eye care in Belize. Vitrectomies are a very complicated, very expensive procedure that are sort of considered a tertiary or end stage treatment. So, B.C.V.I works daily to prevent blindness, and primarily you would see this needed in patients with diabetes. So we provide laser treatment, we work with counseling patients on their diet and exercise. But some patients whose diabetes is out of control will reach the point where they need this very specialized surgery. And B.C.V.I is very excited that we’ve been able to do the first seven so far, and we look forward to being able to do more, not just this week, but in the future as well.”


One of the patients was a diabetic who is only twenty-five years old. Its diabetics like her whose eyes have been damaged that ophthalmologists like Dr. Zac Koshy try to help.


Zac Koshy

Dr. Zac Koshy, Consultant Ophthalmologist 

“One of the concerns that we have is with a large population of diabetic people who have problems with their eyes. Now, there’s a lot of work that’s been going on by B.C.V.I and the other visiting doctors who have been doing things like laser treatment to try and reduce the chances of serious problems coming from the disease process. But that depends on how many people we can actually bring in. My hospital back in Glasgow, the air hospital, was able to send two machines over before the pandemic. But that was just the two main parts. There are lots of other important cogs and wheels that need to click together for us to be able to do that kind of surgery.”


For this week only, all twelve surgeries being conducted are totally free to the patients.


Carla Ayres-Musa

“Because we are fortunate enough to work with the companies internationally and to be able to get support from them, we don’t have to charge a full cost for the service. Like I said, this time will be completely free of cost for the patients that we’re operating on this week. But going forward, we hope to work with N.H.I to be able to include some support in the scheme for our patients.”


Carla Ayres says they will also work on Independence Day tomorrow. Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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