By Mandi Enger
This spring, Hue, Vietnam welcomed nearly 30 faculty members from around the world to attend the 4th biennial Imperial City Eye Meeting (ICEM). Volunteers, including Hon-Vu Q. Duong, M.D., senior lecturer of biology at Nevada State College, presented lectures and lab sessions aimed to teach the latest techniques in ophthalmology to over 350 eye specialists at the Hue Central Hospital.
“Eye specialists in areas of the world such as Vietnam often do not have direct access to major research institutes,” said Duong. “Therefore, current research can take a couple of years or more to reach these medical professionals. ICEM is a venue to share the most up-to-date research and technology.”
ICEM is the largest ophthalmology training program in Southeast Asia covering a range of topics including cataracts, corneal and retinal disease, oculoplastic reconstructive surgery, and glaucoma diagnosis and treatment.
“This year’s five-day event consisted of lectures, surgical demonstrations and hands-on equipment trainings,” said Duong who focused his teaching sessions on ophthalmic pathology as well as oculoplastics surgery.
Sponsored by the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, the event is offered every two years to eye specialists in the country at little- to no- personal cost. Volunteering faculty members in turn fund their travel and transportation of personal and medical supplies.
Duong has participated in the ICEM conference since 2010 and looks forward to attending again in 2014.
“At Nevada State College there is a high level of biology students interested in pursuing careers in the medical field,” said Andy Kuniyuki, dean of the school of liberal arts and sciences. “It’s exciting to see these future doctors and ophthalmologists learn from an experienced professional and humanitarian like Dr. Duong and in turn develop similar passions for aiding individuals in need from around the world.”
Duong has been participating in academic, medical and surgical missions for nearly a decade through organizations such as Friends of the Children of Lascahobas, Gift of Sight and Project Health. “At the very core, medicine is to take care of the under privileged; the sick and the dying and in our case, the blind and those going blind. That’s why I volunteer on a regular basis,” added Duong.
Currently, Duong travels to Haiti and the Philippines each year and Vietnam twice a year and has become part of a local ophthalmologist team that often volunteers together. The “Vegas Crew,” as the group is known to others in the humanitarian community, includes Kenneth Westfield, M.D., and Nancy Evangelisti, COA.
“It’s a very close-knit group; we work well together and can adapt to the unique and often stressful situations that take place on our missions. We really travel now as a family,” added Duong.
Duong is planning his next volunteer excursion for October 2012 – a Project Health medical and surgical mission to Ben Tre, Vietnam followed by a surgical eye mission to the Philippines.