(From Today's Saipan Tribune. The story is generally accurate.)
Marianas Eye Institute's Dr. David Khorram, MD, chief executive officer Russ Quinn, Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela, Public Health Secretary Joseph Kevin P. Villagomez and Deputy Secretary for Public Health Administration Lynn Tenorio lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Center for Advanced Diabetic Eye Care on Beach Road, Garapan Friday. (Jacqueline Hernandez)
The Marianas Eye Institute held a grand ceremony yesterday for the opening of its new $200,000 Center for Advanced Diabetic Eye Care, which features the latest technology in eye care.
According to Marianas Eye Care chief executive officer Ross Quinn, the center was built specifically to address the ocular needs of the islands' diabetic population. The CNMI has one of the highest rates for diabetes in the world, third only to Nauru and the Pima Indians.
The expansion project includes the Ocular Coherence Tomography, a breakthrough eye scan technology that provides detailed color CAT-scan like images of the structures of the eye.
OCT helps guide a doctor's evaluation and treatment of a patient's diabetic eye diseases, particularly glaucoma and retinal disease.
According to Marianas Eye Institute owner and ophthalmologist Dr. David Khorram, the OCT is used at least five times a week. “It really is a huge necessity. We wish we can use it less,” he said.
The center also features a digital retinal photography and flourscein angiography. Marianas Eye Institute is one of the first two centers in the United States to acquire the specially designed high-resolution digital camera.
“With this camera, we are able to document the level of diabetic eye disease and its response to treatment. Digital photography allows you to instantly see what is happening inside your eye and to better understand your diabetes and our recommendations,” Khorram said.
The advanced cataract removal system is another one of the advanced technologies the Marianas Eye Institute implemented. It is one of the world's most sophisticated pieces of surgical equipment for restoring vision. It uses digitally modulated ultrasound to remove cataracts and provides for a gentle procedure with enhanced safety and rapid recovery time.
Another equipment is the biological modulator. It is used to treat diabetic eye disease at a molecular level.
According to John Garland of the Advanced Medical Optics in California, “Dr. Khorram uses the latest extraction techniques that are being used at U.S. mainland facilities. Your patients in the CNMI are truly getting a world-class cataract operation.”
Public Health Secretary Kevin Joseph Villagomez said the new center will lessen the need to send people to off-island referrals.
“When we send people off island for eye care, it is really for severe cases. It usually requires us to send that person there in less than a day because of needed surgery that cannot be done here.”
But with the installment of the new center for advanced diabetic eye, “that will lessen the need for travel and the need to wait for visiting specialists who are here one week and gone the next,” said Khorram.
He added he understands the financial burden that diabetes can bring to individuals and families. “For this reason, we established the Eye Foundation Fund. We want to make sure that you get the care you need, even if you cannot afford to pay for it. It is our commitment to the community.”
“What is more important here, I think, is that we are improving the livelihood of the people of the Commonwealth-and we can never put a price to that,” said Villagomez.
The two ophthalmologist of the Marianas Eye Institute includes Dr. Mark Robertson, OD and Khorram. Both doctors have received national recognition in eye care. [Mark is an optometrist, not an ophthalmologist.]