Our first patient of the Peru clinic: Maria Magdalena

Our first patient of the Peru clinic: Maria Magdalena

"It takes a village”, is a phrase that could describe the teamwork approach to serve each OneSight patient who comes to our optical clinic. Today follow our first patient of the clinic, Maria Magdalena.

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Today I met Maria Magdalena, 61 years old, and our first patient for the Lima, Peru 2014 OneSight clinic. I greeted her outside the front door, where she sat with her husband, Zalamiro, who also came today for an eye health check.  She’s a small woman, not much more than five feet tall. Her pink sweater kept of a slight morning chill while she waited patiently for our clinic doors to open.

Through one of young missionary translators from the church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS), I learned that Maria traveled  1.5 hours on a city bus from the north Lima district of San Martin de Porres in order to get to the clinic. She was one of the lucky ones in her neighborhood who received one of the six tickets for our clinic that the Peru Ministry of Health distributed in a little shop near her home.

She arrived more than an hour before our doors were scheduled to open to ensure a spot near the front  of the line.  Since we were expecting  to see 400 patients today, it wasn’t long before  many others joining Maria, forming a  line that quickly wrapped around the outside of the building where we’re holding our clinic (LDS church--Jesu de Christo Church).

Why Maria came to the OneSight clinic today

Maria was already wearing glasses that she got five years ago when she had cataract surgery on her right eye.  She said she must wear the glasses all the time, every day, to function—much like my colleagues back at home who shared their stories (see previous story—“Why we love our glasses.”)

She said her other eye had problems now, and she came here today to find help.  She broke down and cried when she told me she did not have the money for a visit with an eye doctor.  She lives with her son and daughter, and her five grandchildren, all in very small house.  In Maria’s neighborhood many people live without a bathroom of their own and food is scarce. Her son earns the money for the whole family, but he does not get paid much for long hours on a third shift in a local clothing factory.

Angels from God

I gave her a tissue to catch the tears, and she rewarded me with big, long hug and words that meant to say I’m an angel sent from God to help her (many of our team members heard similar blessings and thanks from patients today.) It was such a tender moment for me and reminded me of why we are all here, spending time away from our own families and jobs…to give a gift of clear sight to as many people as we can in Lima, Peru over the next two weeks.

All hands on deck (or at least 17 pairs of hands!)

As I escorted Maria through the clinic stations, it amazed me how many of our team members and volunteers took part in her care—17 altogether! Here’s who helped Maria from start to finish today:

  • A volunteer from GMO, the local Luxottica optical stores,  took Maria’s ticket and issued her patient form at the door.
  • Next, a volunteer from  the Peru Ministry of Health, asked initial questions about her eye and health history and checked the boxes noting her past cataract surgery.
  • A different volunteer from the Peru Health Ministry presented a short educational talk about the importance of eye health and what the eye health check would be like today.
    The first step of the eye check process for Maria was at a station manned by volunteer Luxottica associates from GMO, the local eyewear retail store chain. Here Maria's distance and up close vision was checked using the eye chart where you read the lines of letters from one side to the other. This gives the doctors some valuable insight into Maria's vision needs.
  • Next,  Dr. Heather from Chicago, Illinois used a hand-held tonometry pen to check Maria’s eye pressure. High eye pressure is an indicator of glaucoma (Maria’s eye pressure was fine). After that, Dr. Heather put the dilating drops in Maria’s eyes to help provide a better view of the back of the retina for Maria’s eye exam.
  • While Maria's eyes were dilating, Dr. Nancy from Wisconsin, used a lensometer to read the prescription in Maria’s current glasses.
  • Theodora, who works as a service center trainer at the Luxottica office in Ohio, then used the auto refractor machine to get an initial prescription reading of Maria’s eyes. This information will give the eye doctors a baseline prescription to help determine her final prescription later in the process.
  • Dr. Nasim, also from Chicago, performed the eye health check, using a light to see the back of Maria’s eye (the retina) andto  look at her optic nerve and blood vessels in her eyes  for signs of disease or damage. Thankfully, she did not appear to have any such concerns, although Dr. Nasim instantly recognized the cataract beginning to form in Maria’s left eye.
  • Next up, Jody  another Chicagoan, showed Maria the frame collection and helped Maria choose the eyeglass frame she liked from the OneSight Collection by Luxottica (she picked a lovely cranberry colored plastic frame that flattered her face).
  • Final prescription writing was done in the next room by Dr. Karen from Canada. Using the dials on the phoropter, and asking “which is more clear? One? Or two?,” through the translator. Dr. Karen was able to refine the prescription for the lenses that will go into Maria’s shiny new frame. Dr. Karen said that while Maria needs lenses for both distance vision and near vision, she chose to write the prescription for Maria’s near vision because Maria already had a pair of glasses that were functional for her distance vision.
  • Ron, a lab manager from LensCrafters in Canada, entered the final prescription into the inventory system computer to make sure we have the correct lenses in our lab inventory here at the clinic, and enter the frame style information so the lab volunteers will pick the correct frame from the frame inventory.
  • It was time to say good bye to Maria in the sunglass room, where Dolce from Italy, helped Maria pick out a pair of sunglasses to protect her eyes as she went outside into the bright Peruvian sun. I said “hasta manana” (see you tomorrow), we hugged, and she was on her way home.
  • Even though Maria was finished at our clinic, her glasses were just getting started as her prescription form went into the lab where Steve, a Sunglass Hut regional vice president from Canada (and now Ohio!), had the job of pulling the correct lenses out of our inventory of 15,000+ lenses in the room. The lenses are large round chunks of plastic kind of like a hockey puck, but they’re clear with a prescription matching Maria’s needs already ground into them.  He also picked the correct frame out of the frame inventory and placed both into a tray with Maria’s patient form to start the manufacturing process.
  • Steve handed the tray down the line to Jennifer, our production lead and a lab manager from Alberta, Canada. Looking through a lensometer, Jennifer determined the precise axis (angle that lens will need to be turned in the finish glasses) and marked the lens before passing it down the line to Antonio from Italy. Antonio used a small machine to “block” the lenses, placing small plastic grips on them to hold them in the next few machines.
  • Xacobe from Spain was next at the edging machine, which would cut the lenses into the correct shape of the frame Maria chose.  Before he put the lenses into the edging machine, Xacobe tapped the exact frame measurements into the keypad on the machine, telling it what shape the lenses should be cut.
  • Xacobe handed the newly shaped lenses over to Stephen from Luxottica Wholesale in China, so Stephen could perform a “safety bevel” or “feathering” on the lenses with a small grinding wheel. This puts a smooth edge on the lenses so they fit nicely into the frames and won’t cause cuts to anyone handling them.
  • Anna, a store manager from Chicago, was next in the production line. Anna carefully fit the lenses into Maria’s cranberry red frame and using a lensometer, performed a final accuracy check of the lens prescription and lens orientation in the frame.  All was good!

Hasta Manana Maria!

Tomorrow, Maria will return to pick up her new glasses. Some lucky team member will get to fit them on Maria's face to ensure a comfortable fit so she will finally be able to see clearly up close! 

As you can see from this multi-step journey to a new pair of glasses and clear vision, Maria (and all the other OneSight patients) are very well taken care of.  In addition to all the steps above, the medical representatives of the Peru Health Ministry performed quality oversight all day, making doubly sure that each patient received excellent, thorough care.

Today 221 patients received care from us, including Maria. Only one patient didn’t need new glasses. We are definitely needed here.  The team looks forward to tomorrow when we will have the pleasure of putting those glasses on the faces of our first day’s patients in Peru.

Last updated: Nov 05 2014