Sunday, July 18, 2010

From Bhutan to the Emory Eye Center: a long road to good vision

 Pediatric ophthalmologist Amy Hutchinson
and Birendra Odari (Photo: Tamar Orvell)

Tamar Orvell's Editor's note |  When Birendra Odari visited the Emory Eye Center last fall, Dr. Amy Hutchinson was the first pediatric ophthalmologist ever to examine the Druid Hills High School teen, who arrived in the USA two years ago. A respectful and respected leader in his community, Birendra is an avid soccer player, active member of his school International Club, and vice- president of the Bhutanese Kudzu Project (profiled in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution here).

Emory Eye, a publication of the Emory Eye Center, published a news story (Summer 2010 issue, page 7) on Birendra's visit. (Because of an editing error, the publication misreported the current number of Bhutanese refugees in Atlanta. It is 6,000, not 1,600.) The story is reprinted here.

“We were glad that Birendra Odari had come to us for treatment,” says Dr. Hutchinson. “He had severe astigmatism and hyperopia (farsightedness).” Both conditions were untreated, and because Birendra had never worn glasses or contact lenses before coming to the United States, he had developed amblyopia (decreased vision in both eyes).

“Before visiting Emory Eye [Center], Birendra had been seen by an optometrist in Atlanta. We advised him to continue wearing the contact lenses prescribed by that doctor,” Dr. Hutchinson says. “His vision continues to improve. That’s a welcome situation for this bright and ambitious young man.”

Craig Gilbert and Tamar Orvell, volunteers with the Atlanta Bhutanese Refugee Support Group, accompanied Birendra to the Emory Eye Center.

Tamar noted that Dr. Hutchinson immediately established a caring relationship with Birendra. “After the exam, she asked him about his life up until now. Dr. Hutchinson explained that she could relate in some ways to his experiences in the refugee camps because she volunteers her professional services in third-world countries and sees many difficult situations there.”

Craig added, “Birendra’s mother felt so much relief when we returned home. It was almost overwhelming for her to know that after 18 years of no medical help and no vision correction, her son has had the best possible care. She is thankful to Dr. Hutchinson for her top skills and gracious, gentle ways.”

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