Dr. Jenn here, welcome to our first Eyecare Blogpost. I wanted to give you all a recap of my recent Optometric Mission clinic to Peru in July. If you follow us on Instagram, you got some more sneak peaks, videos and other great content from the trip.
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I was one of 3 Optometrists, along with 5 Optometry students and a handful of amazing volunteers. Our trip was organized by Eagle Condor Humanitarian and the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity. (Sidenote: You don’t have to be an Optometrist to come along on one of the Optometric Mission trips, volunteers are invited and encouraged!)
One of the reasons why these types of trips are so motivating and important to me is the students I get to interact with. It’s a great learning opportunity for them and I hope these trips inspire them to continue giving back once they graduate as doctors.
We held Vision Clinic for 5 days in the city of Cajamarca, but in 3 different districts in the city. The first two days, we had clinic up in the mountains in a small village school that is at about 9,000 feet above sea level. The second two days, we held clinic in the district of Jesus at a local stadium (pictured above). The last day was held in Banos del Inca.
In all of the communities of Cajamarca, we saw a mixture of patients with a majority being elderly Peruvians, children who were students, and women. We provided primary eye care, prescriptions, eye drops, sunglasses and glasses to over 1800 patients in the 5 days. Some of the major problems these communities faced were high amounts of astigmatism, cataracts, and amblyopia. We were able to refer some to a local Ophthalmologist for Cataract consultation and potential surgery in Cajamarca.
But with the poverty in some of the communities, many of the families and students are unable to afford healthcare, let alone eye care. This makes it difficult for the young students to learn and succeed, or some adults to have jobs to earn a living because of their inability to see to function. Vision is a sense many of us take for granted, and I believe it is necessary to make changes to improve the amount of eye care around the world and educate people on the importance of eye health.
The appreciation the Peruvians had for our services was so immense, and so heartwarming. For those of us in the medical field who feel burnt out frequently, trips like these, show you how much of a difference you are making in people’s lives.