Read about the Haiti outreach trip from the perspective of EyeCare Prime General Manager Mark Lindsey.
With an estimated three doctors of optometry for a population of over 10M people, hope can be elusive to find as a participant in an optical outreach mission in Haiti. However, following a seven-hour bus ride and finding thousands of people in need of basic eye care, one loses track of statistics and begins to work on what one can do to help those in need. During our multiple twelve hour days, we saw infants, policemen, principals, nurses, and even some Haitians into their late nineties. Most of them had never had an exam in their lives up to this point.
Our team of ODs (VOSH members), translators, and optical professionals set out to spend five days providing medical exams, glasses, readers, and sunglasses to the people of Jeremie, Haiti. This remote part of the island still shows the horrendous impact of hurricanes, outright poverty, and a poorly supported medical infrastructure for its citizens. The average person lives on less than $2.00 per day. This was evident in the housing, the environment, and the lack of food available to the average Haitian citizen. We also ran into hundreds of patients who had never learned to read or write and we quickly adjusted our vision screening tools to accommodate their requirements.
We were able to see over 1,100 patients and provide hundreds of pairs of glasses to those in need. Medicine and referrals for surgery along with custom glasses were offered to dozens of others we examined during our time in Jeremie. One of the most rewarding parts of the trip was our to visit the new school of Optometry that LensFerry is supporting via our donations to Optometry Giving Sight. Knowing that this school will teach and train ODs to serve the people of Haiti for years to come was an excellent and encouraging way to wrap up our last day of the trip.
One case that particularly stuck out to me was Sean, a Haitian orphan, who grew up in an orphanage. He never knew his mom or dad and did not know how old he was, however, he guessed he was between 30 and 49 years of age. He was demonstrating signs of Presbyopia during our exam and I estimated he was most likely in his mid to late 30’s. I joked with him – through our translator – that we would need to cut him open and count the rings like a tree to determine his age. He laughed, and as I handed him his new + 2.50 readers. He then began to smile and commented to me that he and I would be friends at any age.
Thanks to the LensFerry Gives Sight program, in partnership with Optometry Giving Sight and LensFerry practices, underprivileged people in impoverished communities were able to receive eye exams, glasses, and vision care. With every contact lens purchase, your office and your patients have contributed to a meaningful cause.