Humanitarian Work

Linyi, China (June 2018) – Dr. Gene Howard spent time at the Lunan Eye Hospital in Linyi China teaching physicians about eye plastic surgery.

Charleston, SC (October 27, 2010) – Gene R. Howard, M.D., oculoplastic surgeon with Carolina Eyecare Physicians, recently returned from Hue, in central Vietnam, where he spent nearly a week performing surgery and training local professionals. Howard’s trip was orchestrated by ORBIS International, an organization working to save sight worldwide.

Ophthalmologists from across the country gathered in Hue to learn from Howard the best techniques for helping young children born with birth defects of the face and eyelids. He was accompanied by his wife, a nurse anesthetist. “Two of the surgeons who came to Hue for this education event were my students in the U.S. who went on to become the premier oculoplastic surgeons in their home country,” Howard says.

In Vietnam, where there are only 10 ophthalmologists for every one million Vietnamese, the need is great.

Over the past 20 years, Howard’s teaching has earned him a worldwide reputation. The trip to Hue was not his first visit to Vietnam and it was his ninth ORBIS-organized educational project. In the past, he has taught in Hanoi, as well as India, Jordan, Ethiopia, Paraguay, the Philippines, and Myanamar. Closer to home, he has trained more than 100 ophthalmology, ENT, and dermatology residents, including surgeons from other countries, in oculoplastic surgery. Howard’s former students now practice all over the United States and the world.

According to the World Health Organization, 45 million people worldwide are blind. ORBIS is a nonprofit organization fighting blindness in developing countries, where 90% of the world’s blind live. ORBIS provides the tools, training, and technology necessary for its local partners to develop their own capacity to provide quality eye care services.

ORBIS conducted its first hospital-based program in Vietnam in 1997 and opened a permanent office in Vietnam in 2003. During a recent one year period, ORBIS trained nearly 7,000 doctors and other eye care staff, and more than 26,000 eye surgeries were performed by volunteers like Dr. Howard.

“ORBIS is an outstanding organization, “Howard says. “I am proud to be able to assist in it in accomplishing its mission of bringing the tools, training and technology necessary for its local partners to develop their own capacity to provide quality eye care services.”

A member of Carolina Eyecare Physicians’ team of 10 eye surgeons, Howard is well-known both within Charleston’s eye care community and nationally. An Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at MUSC, Howard has attending privileges at East Cooper Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, a courtesy medical staff member at Roper Hospital and is a member of the consulting staff at MUSC’s Hollings Oncology Center. On a typical day, he can be found at one of his three Carolina Eyecare Physicians offices in Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, or North Charleston. Howard maintains a very active surgical practice, consistently performing 1,000 to 1,250 oculoplastic procedures per year in the operating room, as well as many more in-office procedures.

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