Joel Hunter, MD Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 05/08/17 1:12 PM
This question was submitted by Claire Jordan. Claire is our Director of Strategic Partnerships at Hunter Vision.
When given an opportunity to make a new partnership, we ask, "Is this strategic?" And if the answer is yes, then Claire directs it. (When the answer is "no," we give task of directing it to our Director of Unstrategic Partnerships, who is my four-year-old son. He is currently directing our unstrategic partnerships with his two stuffed animals: Bear Joel and 7-11.)Claire does a wonderful job in her role because she possesses a rare combination of two gifts: she is ruthlessly organized, but also delightful to be around. She also has a British accent so everything she says sounds important, and probably is.
She asked me the other day if I'd write a blog about what technology in eye medicine I'd most like to see advanced if I could choose it. The answer to that one was pretty easy for me because worldwide, the cause for blindness, by a very wide margin, is plain old simple-to-fix cataracts. Outside of developed countries, it accounts for close to 50% of blindness, while all the other eye problems combined make up the other 50%. But that fact, to me, isn't the most amazing one.
Most amazing is that there is a procedure that can completely cure blindness from cataracts for less than $20 per eye. It is a different technique than modern phacoemulsification used in developed countries, but has a success rate equivalent to it! This was proven by one of the greatest modern cataract surgeons in the world. David Chang MD is a cataract surgeon of such magnificence that his talks at eye conferences cause mass swooning in a way that would make the footage of his audiences hard to discern from old footage of the young women at Beatles' concerts.
The Himalayan Cataract Project, which has now spread globally far beyond the Himalayas, has set out to cure preventable blindness from cataracts. The two men at the helm, Sanduk Ruit and Geoff Tabin are both the type of people whose lives would make a fascinating book. Luckily someone else also thought so and Second Suns was written to tell their story. Rather than summarize it poorly here, I'd say you're better off reading it. If you're looking for a good book to make you feel encouraged about the world, you'll like it. It's not about eyes as much as it is about heroes and hope.
So that's the answer to the technology I'd like to see advanced the most. It already exists, and in this case the world will be better for it advancing geographically rather than technically. I don't dream about retirement, but I do dream about Hunter Vision getting big enough that I can spend a lot of time working in these places to help blind people see.
I remember asking God to perform little miracles ("move this ceiling fan") to bolster my faith when I was younger; what I didn't realize at the time is that there are miracles happening all around us that my world was too small to see. Ironically, it's just that we get to be the ones to make them happen if we stop sitting around asking.