Yong Larrazabal helps you see the world better by Ruth G. Mercado (The Freeman, October 16, 2002)


Ophthalmologist Potenciano S. D. Larrazabal III, Yong to friends, carries a selfless commitment — he wants people to see the world better. To many of us, it has become routine to see loved ones, fix oneself or to see things the way we want to see them in full color. But to those with eye disorders, such routine can become a painful, searing desire.

The eyes have it. This 1-inch spherical structure of the human body is a sensory organ of muscles, tissues, rod-shaped and cone-shaped cells that is set on the hollow socket of the skull. The eyes create the ultimate difference in life that without it; one would be totally in the dark.

When words are just too much to say, we speak through our eyes. When we cry, show anger, laughter and most especially love, we send a thousand messages by just the look of our eyes.

But there are many whose sense of sight is still the most precious, priceless gift they want to have. Larrazabal himself handles an average of 50 to 100 patients daily for such cases as cataract, glaucoma or retinitis. It could become a strain on the eyes, but Larrazabal actually finds joy in restoring sight and giving back to people the color and clarity of vision.

“I am happy when I see patients fix themselves and go to the parlor after their sight is restored,” said Larrazabal. Bearing a youthful demeanor at 33, Larrazabal is already a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology.

Larrazabal believes in giving eye patients in Cebu the state-of-the-art technology that would best restore vision. He employs computer-based technology in patient examination and diagnosis making it precise, painless and trouble-free.

To date, Larrazabal offers laser surgery also known with the acronym LASIK for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. This is a surgical procedure intended to reduce a person’s dependency on glasses or contact lenses.

Intricacy and intimacy.

What of the eyes made Larrazabal look into and commit to ophthalmology? Perhaps it is because of Larrazabal’s eye for intricacies and the intimacy of God’s miraculous workings in the human eye that he has committed to ophthalmology to heart.

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine specializing in the anatomy, function and diseases of the eye. Ophthalmologists specialize in the medical and surgical treatment of eye disorders, vision measurements for glasses, eye muscle exercises, and the prevention of blindness and care of the blind. It is a specialization that would need the most expensive technology and gadgets that eye treatment is available only in urban areas.

Why so expensive? It is the way the human eye is miraculously created that it needs meticulous treatment. The eye is a sensory organ, approximately 2.5 cm or 1 inch in diameter, that perceives and responds to light. The actual process of distinguishing the minute variations of shape, color, brightness, and distance is performed by the brain rather than by the eye. But it is the function of the eye to translate the electromagnetic vibrations of light into patterns of nerve impulses that are transmitted to the brain. It is in these intricate electromagnetic vibrations that the eye becomes the window of emotions.

To be able to see, the eye functions like a camera that uses a single lens to focus. The retina or the innermost coat of the eyes does the focusing. The retina contains densely packed light sensitive or photoreceptor, cells and functions like a piece of film. An image of the external object being viewed is put on the retina in a point-by-point fashion, like the dots making up an image on a computer screen. The image is then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve, where the complex process of perception occurs. Information from the eye, like the piece of a puzzle, is analyzed in the brain and fitted into meaningful forms.

Perhaps many of us do not feel it, but the nerve fibers connecting the retina and the brain are so arranged that the right half of a field of vision “crosses over” and registers in the left brain, just as the left half of a field registers in the right brain. The brain is able to superimpose the “left” picture of the external world on the “right” picture. Both halves of the picture are seen right-side-up, even as the retinas receive inverted images.

An eye for selflessness.

Astonishing? No matter how meaningful and vital the function of the human eye is, ophthalmologists in Cebu can only do as much. Larrazabal said there are many eye patients in the rural areas especially in mountain barangays who are afflicted with cataract and such common diseases as sties. Eye doctors however are limited from going to them because ophthalmology requires hospital-based treatment where it is dependent on equipment and skill. Thus rural-based patients must be brought to the city. And most of the time, poverty limits them from doing that.

Then there are people whose sight can be restored with eye transplants but there is a dearth of eye transplants here.
Still Larrazabal looks at the future with a bright eye. He is setting his sight on updated eye treatment technology and instituting these here. True ophthalmology is a practice dependent on equipment and skill. But it takes a selfless heart to make people see the world better.

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