In this second article in our SVOSH series, Adia, a student from the Inter American University School of Optometry in Puerto Rico, shares her experience on a recent trip to the Dominican Republic and their extended efforts on their own island in the wake of Hurricane Maria. CooperVision is proud to support the efforts of every student VOSH chapter in North America.
When I worked as a Vision Therapist in Charlotte NC, I was inspired by optometrist Phil Bugaiski and his commitment to missions. Every year, his VOSH trip was on the calendar of his private practice. So when I began optometry school at the IAUPR School of Optometry, I gladly followed in his footsteps.
SVOSH teamed up with NOSA and LIONS to make the medical mission trip to DR a reality! Our group of clinicians, an ophthalmologist, and optometry students arrived in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic on Saturday, April 8th. Our vision screenings took place on Sunday, April 9, and Monday, April 10. We provided free eyeglasses and sunglasses, a pathology clinic with donated medications, and prosthetic eye services by Dr. Juan Vasquez. We examined close to 600 patients, out of which around 400 received corrective lenses and 23 had pterygia surgeries. We distributed many medications for glaucoma, inflammations, infections, dry eye and ocular allergies. Some patients received prosthetic eyes and scleral contact lenses too.
In addition, during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the island coined the phrase "Puerto Rico Se Levanta" which means “Puerto Rico Rises Up.” The IAUPR community relentlessly continues to travel across the island providing free eye care to those who need it. We performed eye screenings on over 100 shoppers at the Plaza Las Americas Health Fair in San Juan, PR. Our next event was a health fair in a Santurce community in need, Cano Martin Pena, where we screened over 50 residents. The last community mission trip of the semester involved joining forces with the Puerto Rico Special Olympics. We performed sports vision assessments on over 50 differently-abled athletes from all over the island.
I am "IAUPRroud" of the impact our students and faculty have made in eradicating world blindness. Although our school is small, we make up for numbers in heart! Our school (a collaboration of SVOSH, LIONS club, and NOSA) is planning its next mission trip to Panama City, Panama in October of 2018.
Here is a link to a video that the former SVOSH President created about our Dominican Republic trip:
CooperVision is also IAUPRoud of the inspiring work this group did both for the people of the Dominican Republic and those closer to home in the wake of Hurricane Maria.