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Pound Ridge Woman Helps Bring Sight to Dominican Republic

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Americans think of glaucoma as a controllable disease that’s easily remedied once diagnosed. But in most Third World countries, the glaucoma often leads to blindness.

Pound Ridge resident Lauren Traub Teton, marketing manager for Option 3, a mobile laser device used to combat glaucoma, recently returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic where she joined a team of doctors and nurses on a mission to help glaucoma sufferers in the small island country.

Teton’s business sells, leases or rents the device by day, known as the Lumenis SLT (selective laser trabeculoplasty) to eye doctors who treat glaucoma patients. It uses “cold” laser technology, which is quickly catching on within the medical community. It was one of Teton’s clients who got her to join the mission to the Dominican.

“One of our doctors loves (the laser) and has been after me for several years to join him on the mission,” Teton said. She finally relented and spent the week of March 10 to 17 in the Dominican.

“They treat many different conditions (on the mission) from near sightedness to far sightedness to cataracts to cross-eyes. But one doctor told me that glaucoma is the most important one because it leads to blindness.”

Teton said that immediately upon her arrival, she hit the ground running and maintained a hectic schedule throughout the week.

“We went from the plane right to the clinic with no orientation or bathroom break,” Teton said. “There were hundreds of people in line for treatment. It was controlled chaos.”

The laser is an alternative to eye drops, which need repeated use to control the disease, whereas the laser treatments only need to be repeated every three years.

“(The laser) helps prevent them from going blind, but I don’t know if they really understand,” Teton said. “But they know we are there to help.”

About 10 doctors from the United States were part of the mission, as well as 70 nurses, technicians and assistants.

“We were on something like a campus – it was a church grounds,” Teton said. “It had a dining hall, dorm rooms and a surgical unit. But it was specifically made for these missions.”

Teton said the Dominican Republic mission could impact the way she runs her business in the future.

“It made me want to find a way to do more to curb glaucoma,” Teton said. “It gave me my own mission.”

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