“I alone can not change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” –Mother Teresa
Whether local or international, all of our eight ophthalmologists proudly serve by helping those in need of eye care but who find themselves in circumstances that limit their ability to afford it.
When we founded our practice in 1973, we made a commitment to serving those in need. As we have grown, that deep-rooted commitment has remained steadfast. Since 2005, I have had the joy of of leading a team of volunteers to serve in Roatan, Honduras. Each year, our team provides comprehensive eye exams and cataract surgeries to those in the community. Piedmont Eye Center has supported these people both financially and by donating supplies. Our patients have been wonderful in donating thousands of pairs of prescription glasses over the years, which we have dispersed to those who would otherwise go without. All donations we receive go fully into supporting the clinic.
The mission, now known as Health In Sight Ministry, has grown into a full clinic serving the poor community of Oak Ridge. They now employ a local Honduran physician who provides general medical care to the community, in addition to eye care. The clinic is one of the only places in the area the local people have for these services. It has become more and more self-sustaining while still providing care for those who are unable to pay. No one is ever turned away for their inability to provide payment. It is now a non-profit 501(c)(3) which allows anyone to contribute a tax-deductible donation.
Honduras is not the only international site impacted by the physicians at Piedmont Eye Center. Dr. Bowers has also served in Guatemala and Dr. Remo Lotano, the practice founder, has been serving in Jamaica for years to provide free eye care. Dr. Paauw, our newest opthamologist, serves on missions to Haiti.
On a more local level, all of our doctors work closely with the Free Clinic of Central Virginia and Johnson Health Center to provide reduced or no-cost services to those who cannot afford care. Dr. Lotano continues to volunteer hours at the free clinic as he has done for many years.
I have also had the privilege of serving as a volunteer for EyeCare America®, sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which identifies people needing assistance with eye care and refers them to local volunteer ophthalmologists to be seen.
Together, perhaps we can make more than just ripples. Maybe we can change the world.
Darin K Bowers, MD