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Stories Of Hope

Posted on September 29, 2017

Meet Dr. Luz Gordillo

In early 2016 HelpMeSee launched a campaign in Peru to identify pediatric cataracts and restore sight to children in need. This campaign was made possible with funding from HelpMeSee’s generous supporters and our project partner, USAID’s Childhood Blindness Prevention program. To carry out this project, HelpMeSee partnered with Instituto Damos Vision, a Lima-based eye hospital that specializes in preventing childhood blindness. Instituto Damos Vision (IDV) was founded by Dr. Luz Josefina Gordillo Robles, a champion for children’s eye health in Peru.

Dr. Luz J. Gordillo’s career in ophthalmology began nearly three decades ago, as a medical student at San Marco University in Lima in the early 1980s. While a medical student , she completed three years of ophthalmic residency and one year of rural service; she also trained in general surgery and pediatrics. Inspired by her mother’s experience with vision loss after a misdiagnosis of low tension glaucoma led to blindness, Luz determined early on that she wanted to work to prevent blindness in her career.

Patients awaiting sight-restoring treatment at a hospital in Peru.

When she finished her residency, Dr. Gordillo realized there were very few pediatric ophthalmologists in Peru, so she traveled to the United States to train with Dr. Maynard Wheeler. Once she completed her fellowship, Luz returned to Peru and found Peruvian ophthalmologists weren’t screening children for many common eye diseases. She began her work by screening thousands of babies born prematurely for visual disabilities, including retinopathy and cataracts, and providing sight-restoring treatment whenever needed. Later she decided to start her own eye hospital, Instituto Damos Vision, to help devote her efforts to helping children and to train others to restore sight.

When she finished her residency, Dr. Gordillo realized there were very few pediatric ophthalmologists in Peru, so she traveled to the United States to train with Dr. Maynard Wheeler. Once she completed her fellowship, Luz returned to Peru and found Peruvian ophthalmologists weren’t screening children for many common eye diseases. She began her work by screening thousands of babies born prematurely for visual disabilities, including retinopathy and cataracts, and providing sight-restoring treatment whenever needed. Later she decided to start her own eye hospital, Instituto Damos Vision, to help devote her efforts to helping children and to train others to restore sight.

Dr. Gordillo completes a post-op checkup on Marlon’s eye.

Luz examines another pediatric patient after his successful cataract surgery.

When HelpMeSee began planning its latest campaign in Peru, Instituto Damos Vision seemed an ideal match as a partner hospital.  Dr. Van Charles Lansingh, HelpMeSee’s Medical Officer for Latin America, reached out to Dr. Gordillo for their help, and together they applied to USAID’s Child Blindness Program for funding to screen for pediatric cataracts and red reflex, as well as train additional pediatric cataract specialists in Peru.

Thanks to this generous grant, they organized a workshop in Lima to train 38 pediatric nurses for the screening program and train additional ophthalmologists to perform pediatric cataract surgeries. Dr. Gordillo believes that it is critical to invest in training specialists at every level – doctors, nurses, technicians – to identify patients and restore sight in Peru.

Since partnering with HelpMeSee on this project, Dr. Gordillo and Instituto Damos Vision have provided 38 sight-restoring pediatric cataract surgeries, reaching some of the most remote corners of Peru. “All of those patients and their families can enjoy a better quality of life – they could be normal children who study at regular school,” she said.

“Without any screening, these children would be blind,” she said, and thanks to of her advocacy, many forms of preventable blindness are now screened for in children.  And because these patients were screened using the HelpMeSee Reach App, which records patient information along with their GPS location, the long term follow-up care needed for pediatric patients can be supported as these children grow older.

For Dr. Luz Gordillo this project has been the culmination of her long career. She told us, “The most rewarding about my work in pediatric eye health is that we are able to save children´s eyesight every day.”

Dr. Lansingh joins Dr. Gordillo at training workshop

Dr. Gordillo leads training.

Pediatric nurses learning to use the HelpMeSee Reach App.

Outside of her work, Luz enjoys reading, swimming, and tending to her garden, all of which serve as reminders of the gift of sight. But she’s also mindful of the future, spending her free time teaching and training “because if I leave, the world will be continued by other people.” Thanks to Dr. Gordillo’s hard work and dedication, the future of Peru is in good hands.

Following the workshop, Dr. Gordillo poses for a photo alongside a few of the 38 nurses trained to screen for pediatric cataracts in Peru.

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HelpMeSee is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in the United States.

The HelpMeSee mission is to eradicate preventable cataract blindness globally. We achieve this through an innovative, scalable simulation-based cataract surgical training program. Our program covers Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS), Phacoemulsification Simulation-based Training Course (PSTC), Suturing Simulation-based Training Course (SSTC), Complications Management Course (CMC), Phacoemulsification to MSICS Differences Course (PMDC), and MSICS to Phacoemulsification Differences Course (MPDC). These offerings empower eye care professionals to refine their skills, master vital procedures, and excel in ophthalmology. We are dedicated to restoring vision for those with severe visual impairment and cataract-induced blindness worldwide.


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