Optometry vs The World
HELLO. WELCOME TO THE OTHER SIDE OF ME. I am happy to have you here <3
I have been telling you guys that I have a surprise for you for a while now. That surprise is this AMAZING and probably one of the BIGGEST projects I have ever worked on in my life. You have no idea how excited and proud of this project I am.
So we all know that I love travelling, that’s a given. But what you might not have known is that I am studying to be an Optometrist (eye doctor) in Canada. I love what I study and I love travelling, so hey, LET’S MASH THEM UP TOGETHER AND CREATE A BEAUTIFUL THING.
As much as I love travelling and learning about the world, I think that the saddest part, undoubtedly, is knowing how underprivileged some areas of the world are. And although it is very sad, I believe it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for all of us who are privileged enough to live in a developed countries to be aware of this and do what we can in our power to better the world.
So what exactly is it that I keep hyping up? Okay… here we go.
VOSH - Volunteer optometric services to humanity
At my school, I am an executive member of the student VOSH committee. VOSH is a non-profit organization that provides free eye care to impoverished communities in developing nations. Every year, along with it’s team of Optometrists and Optometry students, VOSH chapters across North America complete around 80-90 missions and provide free eye care to almost 100,000 children, adults and elderly people.
This year, we, the Student VOSH Chapter at Waterloo, are organizing trips to:
what we do
Personally, I am organizing the trips to the Philippines and Jamaica in collaboration with the Canadian Vision Care (CVC). There will be 10 students on each trip with at least 2 certified Optometrists (Eye Doctors).
When in clinic at these countries, we will prescribe glasses, give out free sunglasses and diagnose diseases. We will do what we can in our power to treat them or refer them to someone who can.
One of our main goals is sustainability. We aim to stay as far away from the dangers of “voluntourism” as possible. For this reason, we are collaborating with in-country host Optometrists to provide them with the skills and tools necessary to further their health care.
We are also collaborating with in-country host surgeons who will be performing surgeries such as cataract extraction. Cataracts is the world’s most common cause of blindness. Blindness due to cataracts is preventable via a very simple surgery but cataract extraction is not a routine surgery worldwide. Across the world, there is a need for 30 million cataract surgeries, but only 10 million are performed. Often this is because either the care is not there, or the patient cannot afford the care.
SPECIFIC LOCATIONS & DATES
Philippines: The Eye Train in Manila, May 20th - 26th, 2019. These dates are subject to change slightly but not by much. I will have confirmed dates for you in the near future.
See the video here to find out what The Eye Train is all about. It’s pretty cool, I can promise you that. Doctors from Canada collaborated with the SPECS Foundation in Manila to transform an old rusted train into a beautiful clinic with donated quality equipment from doctors in Canada.
Jamaica: Montego Bay. Exact clinic location TBA. July 21st - August 4th, 2019.
Senegal: Villages: Kedougou & Ethiolo. August 2nd - 23rd, 2019.
Haiti: Cap Haitien, July 5 - 13th, 2019.
Ukraine: This site will be held at an orphanage and is not open to the public
Manitoulin Island: This site will be held at a First Nations reserve and is not open to the public.
PLEASE, if you know ANYONE that lives in these locations and needs care, please tell them about us and tell them to come by when we are there. We want to treat as many as we can.
If you would like to donate to our trips, please click on the country names below to be taken to the GoFundMe pages:
The funds raised will go towards treatment services, eye exams, glasses, antibiotics as required, and paying for the cost of surgeries.
To give back to everyone for their contributions, we will be sending personalized postcards from the patients to everyone who donates $15 or more to the Philippines or Jamaica trip.
If you would like to donate $15 or more to the Philippines or Jamaica VOSH trip, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following:
Your full name (and instagram username if you have one so we can shout you out)
The name of the trip you are donating to (Philippines or Jamaica)
A photo or screenshot of your $15 or more contribution
By the way, these types of trips are something that I will be doing for the rest of my life. I will not stop. And I truly and forever will appreciate those who support me, other doctors and students who volunteer themselves to progress this world in the right direction.
JULY 2019 UPDATE:
Many of our trips have now passed and I want to talk about my personal experience in the Philippines.
We treated over 1,000 patients, provided glasses, referred them to surgeons for special cases and also referred for cataract surgery. This experience was truly eye opening and I felt every emotion I possibly could have all in the span of 1 week. I felt sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, excitement, numb, and I left feeling like we should have stayed.
The Philippines can be very segregated in terms of class, either you have money or you don’t. Either you are very poor or you’re living life good. If you only visit the “richer” areas, you would never believe that this is a 3rd world country. But it is, because the majority of their people live in unhealthy conditions.
The realization that someone hasn’t been working their whole life and has been unable to feed their family simply for the fact that they never had the $2 pair of glasses that they needed in order to be able to see what they are doing… is a heartbreaking realization. As happy as I was that we were out there giving these people a new opportunity to create something for themselves, I know that this is not the end. Vision complications is a global issue and there is still so much help that is needed all over the world and this will be a constant battle until these countries can sustain themselves.