I-Care Program: Protecting Eyes and Preserving Vision
Updated: Jun 1, 2022
The environment can impact our health in many ways. Certain environmental exposures differ based on their occupation and access to affordable health care. Pterygium is a condition affecting the eye where pinkish, triangular tissue growth develops on the conjunctiva (clear, thin, transparent tissue that covers the white portion of the eye called sclera) extends towards the cornea. Cornea is a clear, transparent front portion of the eye. It usually grows slowly with time and can progress to where it covers the pupil of the eye which interferes with vision. While the exact cause of pterygium is unknown, research has linked the condition to excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun. It is mostly seen in people who spent much time outdoors with excessive exposure to sunlight as well as regular or long-term exposure to windy, smoky, or dusty environments. Thus, pterygia are frequently seen among construction workers, landscapers and people who do manual labor outdoors. The populations that suffer most from this condition are also the ones who frequently do not have reliable access to health care. Therefore, they do not seek help form eye care professionals for diagnosis and management. Treatment of pterygia depends on the size and extent of pterygium. In mild cases, treatment is not required. But this condition should be regularly evaluated to see if it is causing any other visual problems. Furthermore, Surgery is the final treatment option of this condition. Preventive measures for this disorder include protecting the eyes from UV rays by wearing special sunglasses, especially while working outdoors. Our Vision To facilitate early detection and treatment of pterygia among low-income outdoor workers by facilitating free or low-cost eye care.
Our Objectives 1. Outreach to church and community organizations, particularly those that serve the large Latino population in Prince William County 2. Recruit eye clinics who could provide free eye exams and low-cost corrective surgical procedure 3. Create educational material (flyers, brochures, slide presentations) to teach affected individuals about the condition and how to get an appointment with eye doctors in our program 4. Raise money for free eyeglasses that can aid in preventing sun-induced eye abnormalities
Pterygium pathophysiology (adapted from the American Academy of Ophthalmology)