Rotarians Screen Eyes for Poor in Guatemala

By Huck, Sharon | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

Rotarians Screen Eyes for Poor in Guatemala


Huck, Sharon, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Sharon Huck Daily Herald Correspondent

Local medical professionals from WheatonAEs Spectrios Institute for Low Vision, assisted by volunteers from the Central DuPage Rotary, treated 535 patients in the mountain village of Chichicastenango, Guatemala, during one week in early February.

Patients included a matador who lost an eye 30 years ago in a bull fight and a 12-year-old girl whose eye was punctured by a tree limb during a hurricane. Many of the Mayan villagers suffer from cataracts, astigmatism, glaucoma and an encyclopedia of other serious eye issues.

"One of the big problems is that many people there have fires in their homes for cooking and heating and they donAEt have proper ventilation, so they develop eye conditions from the smoke," Rotarian Tom Bookler said. "Many have never had glasses, so the team brought donated glasses and tried to match them up with the people who needed them."

Rotarian Bob Williams coordinated the sponsorship of Loyola University, Spectrios Low Vision Institute, and the local morning Rotary to provide vision screening, eye surgery, prosthetic eyes, pharmaceuticals and more than 2,000 reading and sunglasses.

During the same week, Rotarians from Indiana and Ohio provided hearing and dental services to another 400 patients.

Williams was joined by Wheaton residents and fellow Rotarians Stan Tawser and Chet Henry, who operated a screening tool called the Retinomax, directed patients to various treatment rooms and, with the help of local interpreters, interviewed the patients. The villagers do not speak English or Spanish, but rather their local Mayan dialects of QuicheAE and KAEchi.

The team was aided by a local pastor, the Rev. …

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