Ophthalmologist’s at COA Give Sight Around the World

June 19, 2019
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Dr. Derick and Dr. Litzinger are a valuable part of our team at Columbus Ophthalmology Associates. Their love for helping their patients and providing the best service possible is evident to everyone they see. On an average day, patients from Central Ohio trust both Dr. Derick and Dr. Litzinger with one of their most valuable possessions: their sight. Time and time again, patient after patient, we have seen success story after success story in patients regaining their vision and satisfied with their procedure. This is what they live for. Or is it? What you may not know about both Dr. Derick and Dr. Litzinger is that their passion for assisting patients’ regain their vision goes well beyond Central Ohio. These brilliant surgeons have been making a difference in the lives of people around the world, helping others regain their sight, one cataract or glaucoma surgery at a time. In order to learn more about their personal decision to give back in this way and about their passion, we’ve invited them to share their personal experiences with you!

Dr. Derick: “I have been fortunate enough to visit Nepal, Dr. Ruit’s hospital in Kathmandu and meet Dr. Tabin (in reference to the Himalayan Cataract Project). Their dedication is truly inspiring! I believe their experiences led me to become involved in Ophthalmic Surgical Missions.  I have been on 8 missions and able to help restore sight to thousands of poor people blind with cataracts. I can honestly say that the missions are some of the most fulfilling aspects of my practice of Ophthalmology. There are no words to express the special bond you make with a person who cannot see one day and can see well the next! I believe that some of the personal stories portrayed on 60 minutes about Drs Tabin and Ruit’s work in Burma depict this patient-doctor bond!”

Why did you become an Ophthalmologist?

Dr. Derick: “One of the reasons I became an Ophthalmologist is because I believe that sight is the most precious of the senses. Losing your sight is life-altering. Think about trying to get through the day without using your eyes – cooking, cleaning, working, taking care of your family – without being able to see. That is the reality for thousands and thousands of people in Nicaragua.”

Tell us about your trip to Nicaragua

Dr. Derick: “Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Central America and access to health care is extremely limited. The health care system in Nicaragua is two-tiered: a government-sponsored tier that is free and a private pay tier. Only private pay patients have access to modern cataract surgery and those who can afford it are very few. Without access to modern surgery, thousands of Nicaraguans become blind every year. I knew the incredible impact our team’s surgical skills could have on the lives of these patients. Just a few minutes with us could change their lives forever and give them back the sight they lost. So when I was asked to return to Nicaragua again, I jumped at the chance. Our team of twelve—three surgeons and nine surgical assistants—carried 1,200 pounds of surgical equipment, instruments and microscopes down to the National Eye Hospital in Managua, Nicaragua. For four long days, our team of surgeons and scrub techs performed 152 cataract and glaucoma surgeries. The people of Nicaragua are incredibly kind and were so patient as they waited for their turn under the microscope. Watching someone see for the first time in months, even years is something I’ll never forget. When the patches were removed, there were hugs, expressions of amazement and joy and many tears. Those are the moments as a surgeon you live for and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes I think I get more out of the experience than they do. I have loved giving back through my medical mission trips to Jamaica, India, and Nicaragua. We are a self-funded group and all of our staff have to take vacation days to be a part of this team. Some people may feel that we are incredibly generous with our time and resources, but every single one of us feels lucky and fortunate to be able to participate in these life-altering experiences and give back the gift of sight.”

On Dr. Derick’s last mission trip, his daughter was able to join him and be his interpreter!

How about that for inspiration!

Dr. Litzinger has also given his time and talents to help those around the world.

Can you tell us about your experience?

Dr. Litzinger:  I first met Dr. Tabin when he was a visiting lecturer at my residency program in San Francisco, California. We saw patients together before his lecture and bonded over common interests including outdoor sports, international healthcare, and ophthalmology. We kept in touch, and he later arranged to have the Himalayan Cataract Project sponsor my course on small incision cataract surgery (SICS) in Kathmandu, Nepal at the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology. I spent five weeks in Nepal learning the SICS technique from Dr. Sanduk Ruit and other Nepali ophthalmologists, and also saw hundreds of patients in their bustling eye clinic. I wanted to learn SICS because it is low-tech but effective and does not require the expensive and heavy equipment that we use in the U.S., and therefore the technique travels well. I can perform it anywhere from a surgical tent in the Himalayas, to severe cases here at home. I look forward to employing the SICS technique again on my next medical mission and am forever grateful to Drs. Tabin and Ruit for helping me acquire the skill. As you can see, our Doctors love what they do and truly desire to bring the gift of sight to those here at home and abroad. You did hear about the Himalayan Cataract Project from both of our Doctors and we want you to learn more about that too. If you click on the image below, you will be taken to a video where you can see exactly what Ophthalmologists, like Dr. Derick and Dr. Litzinger, are about to do around the world to help provide vision for all.

As you can see, our Doctors love what they do and truly desire to bring the gift of sight to those here at home and abroad. You did hear about the Himalayan Cataract Project from both of our Doctors and we want you to learn more about that too. If you click on the image below, you will be taken to a video where you can see exactly what Ophthalmologists, like Dr. Derick and Dr. Litzinger, are able to do around the world to help provide vision for all.



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