Canvasback treats many eye patients

Canvasback Missions is donating this state of the art, portable eye diagnostic equipment to the Ministry of Health. Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal, left, said this new equipment is an “ideal way” to check the health of people’s eyes when diabetic screenings are conducted out in the community.


Canvasback’s Opthalmology and Retinal Mission has seen over 250 patients since it opened clinic July 15. The eye team has successfully conducted over 60 eye surgeries. Patients are given primary and routine eye care, which means that while the team diagnoses and treats patients they also see to prescriptions for people who just need glasses to improve their eyesight.

Patients are given simple visual tests and, as part of the routine procedure, undergo a slit lamp exam where a doctor shines a light into the eye to look for injuries or diseases. Those who are diagnosed with cataracts, cloudy lenses that impair vision, are referred to Retinal Specialist Dr. John Carlson who is able to fix them surgically.

According to Canvasback Vice President Jacque Spence, there is a great need for more retinal specialists in the Marshall Islands due to the high prevalence of diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy, otherwise known as diabetic eye disease, is a leading cause of blindness where damage in the retina occurs from diabetes. It affects a significant number of people with diabetes, but such cases can be reduced with the right treatment and monitoring in place.

In the meantime Canvasback donated a $10,000 non-mydriatic retinal scanner unit, both a desktop and portable hand-held device. “We’ll be able to do more and take it out into the community,” said Tanner Smith, Canvasback’s Wellness Center director. The portable equipment will make it easier to diagnose people with eye problems who might not otherwise come into Majuro hospital.

Read more about this in the July 26, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.