This past summer I had the privilege of going on a MOST Ministries eyeglass mission trip to a Lutheran Church in LaPaz, Honduras. I was asked to serve as the nurse to examine clients’ eyes as they came through the clinic.
As the nurse, my job was to detect any eye issues that might warrant the client getting sunglasses or prevent them from continuing through the eye clinic if they had an eye infection. The conditions I saw at an alarming rate were both Pterygium & Cataracts. Pterygium, also called “surfers eye”, is a growth that occurs on the conjunctiva that covers the white part of your eye over the cornea. The growth is caused from irritation to the eye from UV rays, wind, dust & smoke. The most common cause is constant exposure to sun without the protection of sunglasses.
The clients in Honduras are often men who work outside all day or women who cook over open fires without eye protection. I saw an unusually high amount of Pterygium & Cataracts in these individuals at a young age.
Both Cataracts & Pterygium can lead to vision issues and loss of sight if left untreated. The most effective way to prevent both of them is by wearing sunglasses. At the eyeglass clinic in Honduras, we ran out of sunglasses which prevented us from giving them to all of the clients who already had Cataracts & Pterygium.
The reason I am writing this is in hopes that in the future, enough sunglasses are sent to eyeglass clinics to give to every client who has the issues I’ve seen. It was frustrating to send people away with no eye protection when they needed it. What would be even better would be to give out sunglasses to every participant who is exposed to sun regardless of whether they have an issue because prevention is better than trying to treat an issue after it has developed.