Southern Eye Bank Provides Vision Equipment Grant To St. Thomas Community Health Center

NEW ORLEANS – Following the beneficial impact of a 2014 grant provided to the St. Thomas Community Health Center to purchase new equipment for eye exams, Southern Eye Bank has again continued its support to provide a 2015 grant to Dr. Donald Costello at the St. Thomas Community Health Center.

         The new grant will allow the eye clinic at St. Thomas to purchase a Retinal Camera and a Vision Testing System Letter Chart. Both pieces of technology will help the patients that St. Thomas clinic serves and address eye issues that are common in this community, and often the byproduct of diseases such as diabetes.

         The retinal camera will allow the staff at St. Thomas to perform diagnostic testing of the retina without dilating the pupils. This will decrease the time it takes to perform these tests, as well as the time required to diagnose and monitor retinal diseases. The retinal camera is WiFi-ready for telemedicine and is user friendly, allowing various staff members to perform the necessary tests.

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         By providing a fixation device for young children, the Vision Testing System Letter Chart will aid in cooperation during the eye exam. The system can also be used as a patient education tool, showing videos that assist in explaining the eye diagnosis to patients.

         “This equipment is vital to how we can serve the community at-large,” said Donald Costello, Optometrist at St. Thomas. “With a community and many patients being diabetic, or pre-diabetic, without even knowing that they have the condition, we can use this equipment together to diagnose and prevent a myriad of problems related to the disease that impacts the eye. Southern Eye Bank’s generosity and partnership has been vital to the growth of our clinic and how we support our patients.”

         In 2014, Southern Eye Bank made a donation to St. Thomas Community Health Center; a non-profit organization serving as a full-service primary eye clinic for the community. In the past year, through the work of Dr. Costello and his staff, St. Thomas Community Health Center was able to provide 2,649 eye exams to 2,114 patients. Since he began the eye clinic at St. Thomas, the clinic has experienced steady growth and the demand for superior eye care technology has become paramount to its success.

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         With the 2014 grant, St. Thomas was able to purchase an Optical Coherence Tomographer (OCT) and a Corneal Topographer. Without the donation, St. Thomas Community Health Center would have been unable to provide the diagnostic capabilities to their patients.

         “We could not be more proud of Dr. Costello and the St. Thomas Community Health Center and how Southern Eye Bank is able to partner with them to provide the funding for the equipment,” said William B. Buras Sr., Executive Director at Southern Eye Bank. “The use of the equipment is astounding in how much it is helping those who are in need of eye care but are not able to afford it. Ultimately, Southern Eye Bank’s mission is to preserve and restore sight, and if this helps achieve that goal, then we are doing our job for the community.”

         The OCT was instrumental to the continuing success of the St. Thomas Community Health Center; providing the ability to detect, diagnose, and treatment guidance for retinal diseases and conditions that are most frequently found in glycemic and diabetic patients. Many of the St. Thomas patients suffer from these diseases, which are also the two most common causes of blindness in the United States. The corneal topographer is used to map the surface of the cornea in order to determine the shape and power of the cornea. With the cornea topographer, one is able to identify curvature abnormalities and diseases.

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         The Southern Eye Bank is a 501(c) 3, non-profit eye bank that provides eye tissue for transplant, research and education in Louisiana, the United States and throughout the world.  Founded in 1947, Southern Eye Bank is the third oldest eye bank in the United States and is a fully accredited charter member of the Eye Bank Association of America. In addition to community service and donor awareness projects, Southern Eye Bank has assisted more than 40,000 people with receiving the Gift of Sight.

         Dr. Costello’s Eye Clinic is located at the St. Thomas Community Health Center’s Mahalia Jackson location, 2405 Jackson Ave., Building B, Suite 222, in New Orleans.

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