(Jan 11-15, 2018)
This year’s trip was a little different in several ways. Our most urgent need was to replace two exam lanes of equipment (chair, stand, slit lamp for examinations). The very old equipment was no longer able to provide us with reliable examinations. The newer equipment was purchased through donations and shipped, by boat, to Roatan arriving in December. Since this was a trip to install this equipment we were unable to provide surgeries. Our task was to remove the old equipment, install the new and do as many eye examinations as possible with a smaller team. This trip consisted of myself, my wife Pam, ophthalmic technician Debbie Anderson, and volunteers Craig and Olivia Mitcham. Craig is a fourth-year medical student interested in pursuing ophthalmology and very interested in medical missions. Olivia has worked as an assistant in oral surgery. Everyone on the team was invaluable.
After the equipment was installed we were able to examine over 80 patients many of which had glaucoma, cataracts and other eye disorders. We dispensed many prescription eye glasses donated by our patients, families, and friends back home. Having newer equipment made a huge difference in being able to provide the highest level of care and patients were very appreciative as always.
On Sunday, we traveled to the West end to visit and spend the day at a children’s home called Sandy Bay Lighthouse Ministry. This wonderful organization has been helping to care for children from challenging circumstances for 15 years and currently houses 27 children. They are growing and also building a school. We had the privilege of providing eye exams and spending time with the children which was a blessing to all of us. Craig and Olivia lead in some worship songs and we did some crafts with the kids……all centered around God’s amazing love for us all. We also distributed handmade crocheted hacky sack balls, gospel toy bears and more from the great volunteers back home known as ‘Stitching 4 Jesus’ led by Nancy Kicher.
Two other eye care teams are arriving in March led by Dr. Justin Stormo-Gipson out of Idaho and Dr. Dan Solverson out of Wisconsin. Various types of eye surgeries and examinations will be provided during those times.
Plans are already being made for our group to return in March 2019 to provide cataract surgery. What can you do to help? Drop off prescription eye glasses to our main office in Lynchburg (Piedmont Eye Center), donate some reading glasses or send a donation of which every penny goes directly to the clinic in providing medical and specialized eye care to the poor in Roatan.
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Darin K Bowers MD