Since the formation of MCM, the Vision program has been an important aspect of our ministry.
Two thirds of the world's population lives at or below the poverty level. In many third world countries, health care is considered a luxury as only a small percentage are covered by government sponsored health care insurance. When faced with decisions regarding allocation of scarce resources for medical, dental and eye care, patients in general will leave eye care for last. A sign of a more affluent community can be the number of people who are wearing eyeglasses. The poor wear fewer glasses not because of better vision, but because of the inability to pay for an eye exam and buy corrective lenses.
In order to meet this massive need for basic eye exams, vision screening and corrective lenses, organizations such as the Lion's club have been sponsoring teams of ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians to go to third world countries and they provide eye care using donated glasses. Mano con Mano(MCM) Vision Ministry began as a result of seeing the overwhelming need for vision screening and referral as well as the tremendous need for eyeglasses in the population of people living in Southwestern Mexico. With the goal of providing eye care services for this group of people but lacking in knowledge about basic eye care and dispensing glasses, the founder of MCM obtained training from optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists. Armed with this knowledge and hundreds of pairs of donated glasses, the first eye clinic in Mexico was able to examine over 500 patients and fit over 300 pairs of glasses in a week!One of the early goals of MCM was to train lay volunteers to perform vision screening, triage, and glasses dispensing. A comprehensive Vision Clinic Manual was developed and has been updated to aid in this process. In addition, training sessions with mock eye clinics are conducted by MCM prior to each trip to give the non-medical volunteers adequate knowledge to staff each clinic. On-the-job training is also an integral part of equipping eye care volunteers. This has allowed MCM to become more effective and significantly increase the number of people that we can serve on each trip. It is not uncommon for a MCM team to examine over 1000 people and dispense even more donated prescription glasses and sunglasses in a typical 5 day vision clinic. Reading glasses and non-prescription sunglasses are often purchased in bulk prior to each trip as the demand for these is usually greater than the donated supply.
The use of trained volunteers throughout the third world to improve vision has the potential to improve the quality of life for thousands of people. At present there are many who are unable to read due to normal aging of the eye (presbyopia) and would benefit from reading glasses. Many cannot read street signs, perform jobs requiring high quality vision, see the faces of children and grandchildren or enjoy the sights of the countryside. People around the world lose their sight needlessly due to overexposure to the sun, wind and dust, or secondary to untreated infections. By training U.S. volunteers, and village health care workers in the basics of protecting ocular health and correcting common vision disorders with glasses, people will regain a measure of power over their own lives.
Each year thousands of pairs of corrective eyeglasses are discarded as "obsolete" or out of style in the U.S. By using these discarded lenses and training volunteers, for virtually no expense thousands of people will benefit.
A comprehensive Vision Clinic Manual is available for use by other vision ministry teams and can be reprinted for your use..