The Full Circle

The Full Circle

Eyeleen Ready To Go!

Today was the first day of the clinic proper.  After an early start we all piled into our vehicles and followed ‘Eyeleen’ our mobile vision van to the first location where we would set up clinic for the day in a quaint town called Biddeford.

Fortunately the weather decided to shine upon us favorably for our first clinic day and as we pulled up to the school we were greeted by several volunteers from Anthem.  Our friends at Anthem were just amazing to work with, enthusiastic, ready to dive into any task at hand and I could tell were blown away by the good they were doing today.

We set up the various stations for each of the kids to visit, beginning with registration, then onto visual acuity, tonometry, auto-refraction, then onto the dreaded dilation station to get eye drops!

Kids (and I suspect adults) really dislike dilation because the drops that dilate your pupils sting and then once dilated your eyesight is a little blurry for at least 6 to 8 hours.  Dilation however is incredibly important as it allows the Optometrist to fully examine the eye to make sure all is healthy!

By the time the first kids had reached the dilation station, the team had gotten Eyeleen all warmed up, her two Doctor lanes ready to deliver eye exams and the laboratory all ready to create lenses once the Doctor’s had written prescriptions for the recipients.

For a group that includes many clinic rookies and volunteers that had never experienced anything like a clinic, we were surprisingly organized!  I really believe that the first couple of days we have spent together as a team were completely priceless in helping us understand how each other operate and so once it came to working as a team, we gelled very quickly indeed.

We had three fantastic Doctors volunteer their time to see the kids today, Doctors Mary-Ellen, Rachel and Wendy.  Dr. Mary-Ellen joined us for the morning and Dr. Rachel took over from her halfway through the day and Dr. Wendy was with us the entire time.

All three Doctors were just incredible and delivered the most amazing care to the kids.  As a team we are incredibly grateful to them for volunteering their extremely valuable time and for having some fun with us along the way!

Anyway I digress, back to the most important folks present on the day – the kids!

Once dilated the kids were brought one by one onto Eyeleen where JD was in his element in the role of Traffic cop.  This job basically involves keeping the kids entertained while they wait for one of the Doctors to become free to examine them.  Whenever I stopped over to check on how he was getting on JD was singing songs, playing games and teaching the kids (yes you guessed it) how to speak with an English accent!  JD was the biggest kid there and did a superb job!

As the kids came out from their exams, they moved down the hallway in Eyeleen and caught up with David who was working with Eileen from LensCrafters (what a coincidence on the name) to help the kids pick out their brand new frames.  The selection is amazing and included some brand names like Oakley and Miu Miu, as well as the new frames from the beautiful One Sight collection.  All of the kids were overjoyed at the selection and I could tell they knew they were going to look super cool in their new glasses.

The kids passed through and the lab jumped into life.  Roberto, Mark and a few volunteers jumped into action crafting the lenses for the eyewear and soon it was going to be time to dispense.

As an aside, I didn’t think it would be possible to have kids go through the entire process and get glasses all before school ended for the day… but as I was to see, with the expertise of the team and the high tech equipment on Eyeleen, we would dispense 70% of the kids same day.

As the first pair was completed, there was a palpable sense of excitement as the glasses complete with case arrived back into the testing area.  We called out the name of the recipient and they appeared at the dispensing table where Gerry was poised to dispense.

When Frank put on his glasses for the first time it was completely obvious that all of a sudden his world became clearer.  The excitement in his face was obvious and I had an indescribable rush of emotion that made me want to laugh, cry and jump for joy all at the same time.

This complex mix of emotions was to surface every single time a child received their eyewear today.  I can only describe what we are doing here as beautiful.

These kids are going to be more successful in school because they can see.  They are going to be able to pay back society when grown because they can see.  They are potentially going to grow up and want to pay it forward and join Luxottica because they can see.  I know this because I’ve met two people over the last couple of years who have been One Sight recipients and have yearned to work for the organization that changed their lives for the better.  I always thought it was a cool story, but never really believed the gravity of what we were doing until today and now I completely understand why those folks want to give back to Luxottica and are realizing their dreams.

You know, I’ve participated in local One Sight events in Cincinnati and they’ve been great, even amazing,  but I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to go to a community in need and change lives like this.  I’ve never gotten to see the process from start to finish where a child actually receives their eyewear at the end of the day and are palpably excited to begin their next chapter in life with perfect vision.

It gives a sense of completion.  It’s the full circle…

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Published on Apr 14 2014