We are incredibly proud of the team of volunteers that Dr. Bowers and his wife, Pam recently led to Roatan, Honduras. Below is Dr. Bower’ update on how the non-profit, Health in Sight Mission, is growing and the blessing of their latest trip.
“It’s hard to believe that we have been involved in medical and surgical eyecare missions to the wonderful people of Roatan Honduras since 2005! At that time, it was a relatively unknown island to the world, reachable only by airlines on limited days and multiple connections from the Honduras mainland. Now it’s a destination site for cruise ships with direct flights from the US almost daily. At that time there were 60,000 people without any local access to eye care. Now the population is over 100,000 and a significant percentage of the population is categorized as extreme poverty. Yes, it is a resort island destination, however the poverty and need for eyecare for those unable to travel to the mainland to get it, is still quite significant. My wife Pam and I were determined to do something about this problem. Despite contacting multiple international eye mission organizations, there was no interest from them in adding a new site. So, we decided to venture alone. Needless to say, it has been a learning experience, with plenty of challenges, but worth every effort. From lack of adequate water to serve our surgical autoclaves to unexpected power outages during surgical cases, we’ve seen it all. Fortunately, conditions have improved.
Each year we would take a support team of technicians, nurses and non-medical volunteers simply willing to help and, in time, developed a working clinic with a surgical operating room. Our mission was growing and included the hiring of a local Honduran primary care doctor to manage patients with general medical problems every day of the week for the many people who didn’t even have access to basic medical care. We established our 501c3 non-profit status, known as Health In Sight Mission, and now it has caught the attention of others in the medical profession with a desire to serve. Soon, we began hearing from other eye specialists from across the nation, from Louisiana to California, with a desire to join us. We had a clinic with a surgical suite, complete with a surgical microscope and all the equipment needed to perform everything from basic eye exams to complex cataract surgery. Now we have many eye specialists joining together to meet the need in providing care to the indigent.
We just returned March 2022 from our 18th trip. The momentum continues, as the mission has recently acquired land for our future new clinic / surgical facility along with many more professionals wanting to join in our effort. Our team this year consisted of two oculoplastic surgeons, from Pittsburg and Richmond, along with cataract surgeons from Washington DC, Denver, Wisconsin,
Ohio and North Carolina. We were honored to have a cornea / cataract specialist who heads up the Global Mission Outreach for Duke University Eye Center. With such talent we were able to examine close to 600 patients, provide oculoplastic surgery to 7 patients, fit 3 patients with ocular prostheses from disfiguring eye injuries and perform 56 cataract surgeries. We also dispensed numerous prescription glasses that were donated by our friends, family and patients!
A few patient encounters always stand out on each trip and this mission was no different. One was a elderly gentleman who had to be led in by family because of bilateral advanced cataracts. Immediately after his surgery, he was able to see our faces and independently walk out of the clinic on his own with, literally, a new outlook on life. Another involved a 14 year old girl who had a disfigured blind eye from a traumatic injury. She experienced ridicule and bullying from classmates and she became socially withdrawn. Yet, when an artificial eye prosthesis (artistically handmade and donated by an ocularist) was inserted to cover the scarred and shrunken eye, it changed her appearance dramatically. Now she had, what anyone would say as, two matching eyes. She looked in the mirror and told her mom ‘I finally feel pretty’. Needless to say, there were a lot of tears shed in joy for her ‘renewed look’.
It’s such a privilege to be a part of giving back to those in need and we receive as much of the blessing as those receiving the care. We look forward to continuing our trips. Ultimately, it is our desire to build a freestanding eye center in Roatan, staffed by Honduran ophthalmologists and technicians, where eyecare will be easily available to all regardless of ability to pay. We would continue to provide professional support and help with training but the center would be Roatan’s own. Currently we are in discussions with the ophthalmology residency program on the Honduras mainland to find that new specialist with a desire to serve and build a practice. Within two years, it is our hope and prayer that Roatan would be able to provide the highest level of eye care for the entire island population on a daily basis. We welcome anyone interested in joining in this effort as we are actively raising funds to complete this project.”
For more information please visit www.healthinsightmission.org . All donations are tax deductible.
For anyone wishing to donate by mail, our address is:
Health In Sight Mission | 8104 Westchester Drive | Vienna, VA 22182