Mexico’s “La Cocina de Amma” continues to provide meals to the most disadvantaged parts of Cancun and surrounding areas. Through this program, our volunteers are working tirelessly to satisfy the basic needs of many local families, not the least of which is the need for adequate eye care. Recognizing the impact of poor vision upon education and the quality of life for children in these communities, our volunteers decided to conduct a visual assessment campaign in the area’s primary schools similar to the ones being held by our team in Kenya.
Uncorrected “refractive error” is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, even though it is easily fixed with a pair of eyeglasses. In February 2015, our volunteers optometrists collaborated with Visió Sense Fronteres (Vision Without Borders) as well as the local organization Manos de Apoyo y Vida (Hands of Support & Life) Foundation to carry out our first campaign to prevent refractive error blindness in Cancun. Our volunteers worked together for 15 days in Regions 235, 236 and 237 of the local schools as well as Manos de Apoyo y Vida’s Community Center and the neighboring marginalized communities, in a rural area 80 km outside of Cancun.
The campaign logged each participant’s basic data, along with any possible symptoms of eye problems they might have. Vision tests were then given to all participants. Children or adults with less than 80% normal vision were reviewed by optometrists to assess the cause of their decreased vision. Finally, those who needed glasses were identified and were later supplied with them free of charge.
A total of 3,492 people were seen, and 497 glasses were distributed. This campaign was a great success and also brought to light that many in the area needed cataract surgeries. The team will partner again and hold a second campaign to conduct free cataract surgeries in the near future.