Dr. Julia Song (left) with Christine C. talking about glaucoma impacts.
Blurry vision forced Christine C. to focus on her health.
The Long Beach resident said she knew that regular eye exams were important, but she hadn’t scheduled one in a while. Her eyesight scare spurred her to immediate action.
Christine’s mother lost her vision to glaucoma and Christine said she was afraid of a similar outcome, since family history greatly increases the chance of contracting the disease. Unwilling to wait six months for an ophthalmology appointment through her insurance company, Christine searched for a better solution and found EyeCare America. For the past 30 years, this organization has teamed with volunteer ophthalmologists to provide eligible patients with no-cost eye exams.
Twin doctors Julia and Alice Song share a practice with offices in Long Beach, Los Alamitos and Pasadena. The two say they are staunch believers in outreach; yearly medical mission trips have taken them to Mongolia, Mexico, Thailand, North Korea and the Philippines. Ten years ago, EyeCare America asked the Songs to offer free exams to eligible U.S. patients. They agreed.
“If you find and treat eye diseases before they become more advanced,” Dr. Alice Song said, “the outcome is better for the patient and for society. Some people become disabled from problems that could have been prevented by regular exams.”
EyeCare America sent Christine to see Dr. Julia Song. Song identified narrow angle glaucoma, a form of the disease that can be remedied through laser treatment. Song suggested surgery and provided the paperwork Christine would need. Christine’s insurance company authorized her for surgery, correcting the problem. Christine’s vision is now fine.
“My mom’s vision loss was frightening… I can’t even imagine,” Christine said. “I felt very grateful to have assistance from EyeCare America. They had a questionnaire, so I filled out the info and I fit the criteria. Then they sent me something in the mail setting up my appointment with Dr. Song. She was great.”
Christine said that glaucoma doesn’t give warning signs, it just attacks. At that point, she said, it’s usually too late.
“My blurred vision wasn’t related to glaucoma, but it got me to make the appointment,” she said. “I had the surgery done and now I’m good.”
The Songs said the number of EyeCare America patients they see has fluctuated over the years, ranging from six to 60 referrals per year. They said they are happy to see EyeCare America patients and they hope more people find out about the helpful program.
“If we catch problems early enough,” Dr. Julia Song said, “there are ways to help people. Christine C. was worried about her family history; her exam identified a problem and a solution. Our job as health care professionals is to help people find their way.”
The Song sisters haven’t limited their care to humans. Over the years, they have treated the eyes of some of their patients’ pets and even adopted a blind puppy. The two women said they couldn’t resist “Pappy,” who is part Papillion, after seeing him at a shelter two years ago. Although they said they couldn’t restore his sight, they put bubble wrap around the obstacles in their home and made him part of the family. Outreach seems to be integral to the doctors’ DNA.
To learn more about EyeCare America, go to www.aao.org/eyecare-america.
Original article, click here.