Sight set on thinking globally, acting locally

November - December, 2008  |  Volume 7, Issue 6

NEI Director Dr. Paul A. Sieving standing next to Dr. Chen Song of Tianjin Eye Hospital for photo.
NEI Director Dr. Paul A. Sieving with
Dr. Chen Song of Tianjin Eye Hospital.
Photo: National Eye Institute

Before National Eye Institute Director Dr. Paul A. Sieving traveled to China to lecture at Tianjin Eye Hospital, a local high school English teacher saw a poster promoting the event and immediately thought of his father who was experiencing vision loss.

The man turned to the Internet, where he found NEI's email address for public inquiries. He wrote: "I've checked out your website, which gives me the impression that you do research, not treatment. However, I still bear the slightest hope that Dr. Sieving can give my father's eyes a look during his stay in Tianjin...my family and I are really anxious and worried about his eyes."

The message was forwarded to Sieving as he was en route to China, but he immediately agreed to the request.

"This was an opportunity for me to gain insight into the realities of eye care in China," Dr. Sieving explained. "Not only was this a chance to see eye care from a patient's perspective, but it was also a unique means for an educational collaboration."

While Sieving examined the 60-year-old-man, seven other health care professionals observed. Their discussions resulted in a diagnosis of choroidal neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a form of the disease that involves the growth of new blood vessels in the eye. The man underwent imaging tests and was later evaluated for treatment.

"This is an example of how NIH scientists can form international collaborations that start at the level of a single patient and may ultimately grow to include innovative training and research programs," says Fogarty Director Dr. Roger I. Glass

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