iGive, what does that even mean?
In our offices we wanted a way to give back. In January one of our doctors, Dr. Nathan Wilson, accompanied one of our optician’s, Jason Vallad, to Dominica where they completed numerous eye exams and fit more than 1800 pairs of glasses to the public there. This trip gave birth to our iGive program.
Medical conditions like glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts, and pterygium are easily treated in the United States, but in countries like Dominica, if not for organization’s like VOSH and volunteers like our own Wilson & Vallad these conditions would go undiagnosed and untreated. Often patients believe their blindness is a result of a terminal condition, but in majority of patients all they need is a pair of glasses. Patients that need assistance with medical conditions are referred to ophthalmologists on the island or to Cuba. Cuba has one of the best medical facilities in the world. Typically there are around 100 patients that require this kind of referral, and the cost is usually covered by Dominica’s Ministry of Health.
It is truly amazing that in 4 days a team of people were able to examine, diagnose, and fit glasses for over 1800 patients. During the short trip there were many firsts for everyone involved including practitioners, opticians, and patients. For many of the patients not only was this their first pair of eyeglasses but also their very first eye exam, sometimes after decades of poor vision. Dr. Wilson also observed a rare ocular condition he mentioned only being familiar with from textbooks. The team overcame obstacles as well. Obstacles such as one original clinic location being in disrepair after the damage caused by recent tropical storm Erika resulted in an impromptu venue change to sub-optimal conditions. Despite the venue, the team carried a “can-do” attitude and gratitude showed by patients helped the team see more than 400 patients.
Tropical storm Erika brought great devastation to Dominica which was clear when the team split in two and went to Grand Bay & St. Joseph. In Grand Bay there were abandoned vehicles, washed out roads and bridges which will likely serve as reminders of the devastation for years to come. Rebuilding on the island is a slow process. That day patients walked for hours over difficult terrain to seek care at the clinics. After being split in two the last day the team joined together again to see over 700 patients. Towards the end resources waned a bit and glasses supplies were exhausted. Dr. Wilson and Jason Vallad came back feeling full and determined to have a plethora of glasses for the next trip.
iGive came to be after the trip.
Now you know our why. Our doctors, opticians, and office staff all care so deeply about giving back and this trip is one of the reasons. With iGive you get to choose glasses at our locations that are quality made, stylish, and fit you + you get to give to someone who might not otherwise have access to seeing the world around them. There’s no better moment than when a kid gets to see for the first time, it’s the same for kids and adults in Dominica. It truly is moving and the reason we do what we do here and abroad.