We have been providing vision clinic services to patients in Laredo since 2009. We have been able to secure an optometrist or ophthalmologist during the 5 days of the mission only in 2009 and 2011, part-time as in long lunch hours in 2013 from a local eye clinic, and in 2015 for one day only.
We serve in the vision clinic anywhere from 350 to 500 patients depending on volunteers serving in the mission and local advertising. This patient count includes the outreach missions made to neighboring “colonias” of Zapata, El Cenizo, and Rio Bravo. Last year in Nov. 2015 we had at least 100 people on the last day of the mission, Friday, who returned for a consultation with the eye doctor who came for seven and a half hours only. The ophthalmologist, saw only 42 people in that time, thus forcing us to turn away 58 people, most of them at the beginning of the day, knowing the doctor would not see that many people.
Machines we have available in our clinic:
2 Focometers – hand-held diagnostic tool, no electricity or batteries required, containing prisms, used to determine eyeglass prescriptions, however, difficult to use.
1 Carl Zeiss Visuref 100 Auto Refractor/Keratometer
3 Carl Zeiss FDT 710 Peripheral Vision Analyzers (PVA)
1 Reichert AT 555 Non-contact Tonometer
1 Icare Contact Tonometer
Procedures we perform during mission:
1) Preliminary screening of visual acuity with eye charts, literate or illiterate
2) Auto refractor reading
3) Fit with prescription glasses (have inventory of donated glasses, instant lenses with frames where eyes have divergent prescriptions, and single vision glasses where both lenses same prescription ranging from -.25 to -2.0 and +.25 to +3.5 diopters. Have option for referral for prescription glasses, if we can’t meet the need, to Gateway in Laredo (non-profit), or to Prevent Blindness Texas (non-profit) for single vision prescription glasses, or to EyeMart locally if patient has the funds.
4) Patient chooses readers using point cards, literate or illiterate
5) Patient chooses sunglasses, esp. to avoid pterygium/pingueculum
6) PVA glaucoma screening for those over 40 and/or family history of glaucoma
7) Tonometer (contact or non-contact, not both) glaucoma screening- same restrictions
8) Preliminary diagnosis of diseases for referral to eye doctor or medical doctor: Pterygium, glaucoma, cataracts, strabismus, infections, ptosis, etc.
9) Referral for over-the-counter eye drops for itchy eyes, dry eyes, allergic eyes, and red eyes. Antibiotic eye drops require doctor’s prescription, which could be written by other medical doctors in mission. Have gotten Restasis donated in past, but requires doctor prescription.
Procedures #2 and #3 require supervision by an optometrist or ophthalmologist in state of Texas. Procedure #8: We could possibly avoid the referrals to Gateway for these diseases or disorders, except in case surgery is required, if we had an optometrist/ophthalmologist onsite to make the actual diagnosis and possible immediate treatment.