Pictured above are the recipients of custom lenses from our recent trip to Guatemala that were made here in the U.S. and have been delivered to our patients in Guatemala.

While in Guatemala, we fit these patients with suitable frames from our stock of used glasses and brought the frames back to Illinois. Here we replaced the old lenses with newly made lenses made from prescriptions written by volunteer I Care optometrists following the patients’ eye exams in Guatemala. The results were glasses as you and I might receive when our eye care professionals tell us our glasses have arrived. With a twist.

Often, packages sent from the U.S. to foreign countries are either subject to risk of theft or prohibitively expensive. In the case of our San Lucas Toliman patients, we mailed the finished glasses to Friends of San Lucas Mission in Minnesota, who were traveling to Guatemala in May. They delivered our glasses to Dr. Tun, head of the healthcare clinic which was our partner in staging our most recent Guatemala clinic. Dr. Tun and his staff contacted our patients, delivered their glasses in person, and took these pictures.

For years I Care has quietly provided a handful of custom lenses each mission, but now we’re trying to expand a very valuable service. In the middle of our Guatemala clinic, for a number of reasons, a quorum of I Care board members on the trip voted to provide up to 30 pairs of custom glasses to meet client need, many more than we had ever done. Here is who benefited from this special effort.

·       26 patients ranging from age 5 through 32. Average age was 15 years 7 months.

·       13 males and 13 females (self-reporting).

Eye conditions treated included severe myopia and pronounced astigmatism. Here are but a few examples with the prescriptions required:

·      5-year-old male student (High Astigmatism)

OS +1.00 -3.00 x 175/OD +1.00 -3.00 x 173

·      20-year-old female housewife (High Myopia with Astigmatism)

OS -5.75 -2.50 x 177/OD -7.75 -2.50 x 180

·      11-year-old male student (Very High Astigmatism)

OS +1.00 -6.00 x 10/OD +1.00 -6.00 x 10

·      23-year-old female student (Severe Myopia with Astigmatism)

OS -18.50 -2.50 x 20/OD -18.50 -2.50 x 20 

While the prescription numbers may mean more to eye care professionals than I Care members and volunteers, trust that each of these twenty-six individuals needed glasses simply to function normally in their everyday lives. We are especially gratified we could meet their significant needs.

Special thanks go out to new I Care board member Kelly Davis and Chris Ortiz, opticians at the Ortiz Clinic, for handling the construction of these 26 pairs of glasses. Kelly and Chris worked closely with two vendors, Walman Optical in Milan, and Acculab in DeKalb, to create the more extreme prescriptions. Others within the power range were made in house using unfinished lenses edged to fit the frames. They then packed and mailed the glasses to Eagan, Minnesota where they began their journey to our patients in Guatemala. In addition, an optometrist volunteering in San Lucas Toliman made a significant donation to cover the costs.

(From Dave McClure)