NZ Advanced Retinal Surgical team visits Rose Cambodia Eye Hospital

Images (click) from the groundbreaking June 2015 Rose Charities NZ retinal surgical training team visit toDr Vra and Natalia’s Rose Cambodia Eye Hospital. June 2015. With retinal surgeons Dr. Muhammad Khalid, from Hawkes Bay and Dr Rob Weatherhead . This enormously successful visit organized by Mike Webber Optometrist of Wanganui NZ , and funded by generous NZ donors resulted in a major upgrade of retinal surgcial capacity in excellent in the new international standard facility built by Dr Vra. The original Kieng Khleang clinic remains to help meet the huge demand in Rose Cambodia’s services to the poor

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Helping Hands, Helping Eyes to see again !


To read this wonderful article by Lucy Mullinger (pdf) <click>

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New Keeler portable slit lamp for outreach services

Rose Charities New Zealand had purchased a new ‘Keller’ portable slit lamp for Rose Charities Sight Centre, Cambodia.  Mr Mike Webber (Wanganui, NZ)  who has provided huge support of the Sight Centre over the years, both with his optometry expertise as well as material input and networking was instrumental in making the donation. The slit lamp will upgrade the Sight Centres outreach services.

In December of this year (2012), Mike will  be travelling together with fellow optometrist and supporter of the Sight Centre, Mr John Veale (Christchurch NZ) to provice Rose Charities assistance  with an large rural optometry screening program organised by the ‘Village Health Development Organization’

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NZ generously donates Humphrey Field Analyser to Sight Center

Another successful mission to the Rose Eye Clinic in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has been completed. Pictured is Rose NZ Trustee Mike Webber and Dr Vra with the Humphrey Field Analyser. All the people in the clinic were absolutely thrilled with the gifted equipment, and could not wait to get taught how to use the gear.

The Rose Charities Eye Clinic in Phnom Penh has just received a major boost, with the arrival of high-tech equipment donated from the New Zealand optom community and a visit from Rose Trustee optometrist Mike Webber with technician Neville Wood.

Three instruments were air-freighted up early this year with the help of one of the Rose team’s guardian angels, Agility Logistics of Lower Hutt. Other benefactors, the PIF Foundation, Peter and Sylvia Aitchison, Sidonia and Adam Pertschy (of Germany ), Mrs Angela Aitken and Mrs Sue Forrest, met the cost of freight and air fares for Mike and Neville.

The three instruments are a Millenium Phaco machine used in cataract surgery, donated by Christchurch’s St Georges Hospital; a Humphrey Field Analyser used for early detection of conditions like glaucoma which cause blindness, donated by the Eye Department, Whanganui Hospital, and an autoclave donated by Alpha Technical Services, of Palmerston North.

As well, a chance encounter with a millionaire “refugee” from New York during the recent visit to Phnom Penh by Rose General Secretary Dr Will Grut has led to a $US17,000 YAG laser being given to the clinic.

The high-level equipment is in the good hands of the medical director Dr Hang Vra, who has just completed his postgraduate ophthalmology exams with top honours, and his wife Nathalie, who is topping her class as she completes her medical degree, having trained as a nurse in the Ukraine.

“Vra and Natalie have both done so well with their studies, while they work so hard for the hundreds of patients who arrive at the clinic every week,” said Mike Webber. “It is really rewarding for them and all the Rose supporters to see the first-class equipment in place.” With these latest instruments the clinic has everything it needs for the foreseeable future.

But changes are afoot. During Mike’s visit an early morning blessing ceremony was held before work begins on a new building that will become both home for Vra and Nathalie and their three sons and a new clinic where paying patients will be treated.

“In Cambodia, you don’t talk about private and public,” says Mike. “It is rich and poor. Vra will earn more money to educate his sons by establishing this new clinic. But he and Nathalie are totally committed to helping the poor as well. I feel confident the balance between their new clinic and the existing one will work out well.

“Things are rapidly changing in Cambodia, and already the city boundary has been extended past the section owned by Nathalie, which is about 15kms north of the present clinic along the main road to Siem Riep.

“So in all I believe that Rose NZ can be proud of what has been achieved over the past six years at the clinic. It is now running splendidly, with

good outcomes for the patients, and I believe that Vra and his team are running the show very well with less input from us as time goes on. They

will still need the occasional input and advice over time, but it wiil get less as their expertise increases. They are all so grateful for all the support from Rose Charities, both from Canada and New Zealand.”

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Dr David Sabiston teaches at the Rose Cambodia Sight Center

Dr David Sabiston a NZ (Hamilton) Ophthalmic Surgeon of unsurpassed international experience. For the past 6 years he has assisted developing establishing the Rose Charities Cambodia Sight Center, generously donating his expertise in teaching and carrying out surgeries. He has organized donations of equipment and funds. Along with colleagues Mr Mike Webber and Mr John Veale, and under the directorship of Dr Hang Vra and his wife Natalia the Rose Sight Center has and established itself as one of Cambodias leading centers for the delivery of sight restoration and blindness prevention for the poor.

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Light sensitive cell transplant tests for future blindness cures

The two, light detecting cell types vital for vision in the eye are the ‘cone’ cells, vital for colour vision and the ‘rod’ cells, highly sensitive to light detection in dim or dark conditions. Ultimately many forms of blindness result from loss of these cells.  Jane Sowden and her team at University College London have been experimenting with the transplantation of these cells into blind mice. The hope is that that eventually human stem cells can be induced to develop into rod or cone cells which can then be transplanted to restore sight in blind people. The experiments have been aimed to establish whether a transplant would be viable.

Most recent results after injection of 200,000 isolated precursor cone and rod cells in the region of the retina showed that in 21 days the new cells settled into the normal photoreceptor (light sensitive) layer which was damaged in the blind mice and grew into proper rods and cones.

The results are exciting and pave the way for potential cure of many blindness causing conditions.

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Wanganui generosity ! A field analyser for Rose Charities Sight Center..

An wonderful donation of a Zeiss Humphrey Optical  Field Analyser has been donated y Wanganui Hospital  via Mr Mike Webber. NZOM for use in the Rose Cambodia Sight Center.  This advanced instrument will enable a full detailed analyisis of sight problems of the patients coming to the clinic for help.

The Rose Cambodia Sight Center helps around 10,000 poor Cambodians per year, many who need operations to prevent blindness or restore sight.  Founded in 1998, the center was robbed, looted and almost destroyed in 2001.  The stolen equipment, as well as its vehicles were traced to the premises of a nearby expatriate managed clinic, but despite requests were never returned.   Despite these crimes the Sight Center has helped  90,000 poor Cambodians to date and is now one of Cambodia’s leading centers.

Rose Charities New Zealand’s Mr Mike Webber NZOM,  Dr David Sabistron NZOM, and Mr John Veale have been pivotal in bringing the clinic to its current status, with regular teaching visits, and obtaining donations of equipment and funds.  Dr Hang Vra,  Director of the Clinic is acclaimed by many international observers as being a ‘superb eye surgeon’   of the highest order.

Dame Silvia Cartwright PCNZM, DBE, QSO, DStJ,( the 18th Gov General of NZ)  has honoured  Rose Charities NZ as being a Patron of the organization.  Dame Silvia has recently been one of the main expatriate judges in the current Khmer Rouges war trials in Camboida

Image shows the Zeiss Humphrey Field Analyser, prior to shipping to Cambodia

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Amazing advances in sight restoration…

Two recent advances have brought the grail of sight restoration for all blind steps close.

The first of these is for patients with damaged corneas.  Traditionally, transplant of the cornea of a donor is one of the only methods, but this can be difficult to organize, expensive and there are rarely enough corneas available.  There can also be political and social difficulties in setting up units.  Now, May Griffith at Linkoping University in Sweden have restored sight in people with damaged corneas by using an implant made of collagen – a material commonly found in many parts of the body  (eg cartilage). The collagen was moulded to the shape of natural corneas and held by temporary sutures. After two years, the artificial corneas in all the recipients had become filled with the patients own cells anchoring them to the eye. Nerves also grew across all of the corneas – important for cell survival and to maintain the blink response.   This method could be a huge advance for cornea generated blindness or low vision . 

The second advance has been the insertion of  a microchip into patients with retinal degeneration. The retina is the sensitive area in the back of the eye which responds to light and converts it to nerve signals. In retinal degeneration, this process slows and then ceases altogether.  Eberthhart Zrenner at the University of Tubingen in Germany developed the microchip. It carries 1500 photosensitive diodes and is slid into the retina where the photreceptors would normally be. They respond to light and stimulate the nearby nerves which pass signals to the brain.  At the moment an outside electrical source is needed but this is supplied by a tiny wire which is passed into the back of the eye.

Both the exciting advances could have huge implications for the blind.

Rose Charities Cambodia’s Dr Hang Vra replaces a cataract at the Rose Sight Center, Phnom Penh

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Innovation in Ophtalmology in Cambodia Conference

Rose Charities Cambodia was one of the main contributors to the 2010 Cambodian Ophtalmological Association Conference in Phnom Penh in June 2010.  Rose Charities speekers included a welcome address and a presentation on Rose Charities eye (and other) projects (Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam) . Dr Hang Vra presented on eye surgery in Cambodia, Dr Basant Sharma (Lumbini Eye Institute and Rose Charities Intl. Vice Chair) presented two papers on eye work in Nepal, and Mr Mike Webber (Rose Charities NZ)  on optometry studies in NZ and S.Pacific.

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90,000 patients between 2002 and 2010

The Rose Charities Cambodia Sight Center has seen over 90,000 patients since 2002 and carried out around 12,000 surgeries, most of them to restore sight or prevent blindnes.

Patients for consultation and treatment come to the clinic by their own means from all over Cambodia, such is its reputation.

The center has attained its high reputation through the expertise and dedication of its all Cambodian staff and the support of Rose Charities experts, mainly from New Zealand and Nepal

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