Imagination may not sound like an acceptable ingredient in an honest memoir, but it crops up a lot in this one. I thank my lucky stars for dyslexia even if it made me poor at reading and awful in math. Its other effect—which I explain in the book—was to transform common imagination into creativity. The fortunate upshot was the birth of ORBIS–and thereupon lies the gist of my story.
Imagine a man confined to a hut, living in horrendous poverty with no means to take care of himself nor provide payment for his daily food. Then one day, a quick operation takes place and he regains normal sight. He cries wonder-filled tears. Now imagine the effect on the surgeon able to enlighten the lives of thousands of other people. Then imagine how it might feel if such a doctor’s imagination led to restoration of eyesight to millions of people. That’s fee-free professional ecstasy. Let me tell you the whole “selfish” odyssey that has brought the kind of success that reaches beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. -The author.
“Brilliant, engaging, energetic, informative and passionate. All describe this can’t-put-down personal memoir of a life well lived. David Paton could have succeeded as a highly regarded writer instead of the famed ophthalmologist that he is. This is an intellectual, articulate roller coaster journey in contemporary history of an unusually gifted and caring person.”
- Larry Schwab
Thanks to ORBIS and numerous other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the work of ophthalmologists in developing nations has become increasingly collaborative, progressively systematized, and technically improved. But for each nation the solutions are dependent upon the various causes of blindness and upon the numerous variables in geography, culture, education and economy that affect the choices for optimal solutions.
We physicians today realize that we cannot merely apply our skills to foreign populations and expect that our volunteered work can or even should be replicated by local colleagues using our “western” preferences for providing surgical and medical managements. A new field of expertise is growing and, I predict, will eventually become an official sub-specialty of ophthalmology.
Academic Global Ophthalmology (AGO) is akin to the purposes of ORBIS which is an NGO created for ophthalmologists worldwide to use in sharing their individual knowledge and hands-on skills in many cities of the world. AGO, on the other hand, approaches the need for optimal international eye care (especially in the developing nations) from a new focus: the educational and collaborative process for optimizing such care for small groups to large populations and offered with excellence, effectiveness, efficiency and economy. Therefore, AGO as such will likely first originate in the eye institutes of the U.S. that provide ophthalmology training; its trained experts will become consultants, field workers, researchers, or teamed participants in programs of the various NGOs––having become the gurus of a special know-how. The realization that current standard training programs do not provide adequate familiarity with what is relevant in the fields of public health, tropical medicine, individualized team functions, and in the non-surgical culture of applied social science adds up to recognition of an educational gap that should be filled as ophthalmology progressively globalizes. To help initiate that undertaking, fellowship training to create experts in AGO is an essential step for appointment to full time or part-time faculty positions in our eye training programs.
There are numerous reasons why AGO promises to be an important achievement for the medical profession, for the roles and strengths of the NGOs, and for the millions of patients with serious eye disorders throughout the world. Global ophthalmology was introduced to readers of the memoir referred to on the left. Here under the enhanced title of academic global ophthalmology it has gained a more defining name. Its discussion hereafter will be informative for the profession and for the public, an intended fishing hook for philanthropic support to provide endowment of a key Fellowship being initiated in AGO that has been turned over by ORBIS to The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Wilmer Institute.
This side of the dual website will become several pages in length, to be completed when the detailed plans for that Fellowship have been finalized.