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Life-impacting work done by foundation

April 23, 2009|By Monica Lee

Upon first impression, Teresa Narayan is a bright and attractive young Fijian; she has the whole world ahead of her, with seemingly little to worry about. Yet, her warm smile and twinkling eyes hide the struggles and pains that plagued her since childhood.

“My vision started getting blurry when I was about 9 years old,” said Narayan. “From then on, it became more and more difficult to see.”

Narayan suffered from keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea is in the abnormal shape of a cone, instead of a sphere. Although keratoconus can easily be corrected with a corneal transplant, no hospital in Fiji had the technologically advanced equipment to do so; her vision continued to deteriorate as she grew older.

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When her parents heard about the Beeve Foundation’s work they decided to seek its help in an attempt to restore their daughter’s eyesight and alleviate her suffering. Together, they embarked on a long journey.

“It took 16 hours to get from the island where I lived to the mainland of Fiji. Then we traveled another 12 or so hours to reach Turtle Island, where the Beeve Foundation was at,” recalled Narayan.

The Beeve Foundation for World Eye & Health is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide eye care to the residents of Fiji, located in Southeast Asia. Founded by Jerold Beeve of La Cañada Flintridge, an ophthalmologist practicing in Glendale, the organization has conducted 19 missions to Fiji so far and more than 2000 total surgical eye procedures for Fijians.

Corneal conditions and eye problems are prominent in the population of Fiji, where the constant glare of the sun requires eye care and protection. Unfortunately, not many Fijians properly care for their eyes, according to Dorothy Beeve, a registered nurse and wife of Dr. Jerold Beeve.

“On our annual mission trips to Fiji, we not only conduct operations and surgical procedures, but dispense sunglasses and eyeglasses, all completely free of charge,” said Dorothy Beeve.

As a result, hundreds of patients pour into Savusavu Hospital during the week that the Beeve Foundation visits Fiji, some traveling very long distances, as Narayan had. Although not all can be treated successfully, the team of doctors works more than 12 hours each day to improve the health of patients.

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