John A. Moran Eye Center’s Refugee Eye Care Clinic Helps 126

Apr 08, 2018 7:10 AM

pablo_invencio.jpgOne man from Peru shared his experience as a labor trafficking victim, working on a Utah ranch without pay. Another recounted traveling hundreds of miles, barefoot, to escape the horrors of war in Bosnia.

Like many refugees now resettled in Utah, both needed eye care but had no vision insurance. They found help as part of the John A. Moran Eye Center Global Outreach Division's first Refugee Eye Care Clinic, held April 7, 2018.

Physicians provided free, comprehensive eye exams to 126 people and 68 pairs of eyeglasses to support employment and independence. They also referred five people for Moran’s twice-yearly Operation Sight Day, which provides charity cataract surgery to uninsured Utahns in need.

For refugees, vision care is a pressing need.

“Access to eye care is almost non-existent in the developing world and war-torn nations,” said Michael Yei, Global Outreach Division director. “Refugees, in particular, are in situations where their nutrition is poor, and where they have high levels of exposure to the sun. These factors can contribute to the rapid development of cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s natural lens that causes blindness.”

Eye exams are critically important since they can also identify other systemic health issues, explained Moran’s Craig Chaya, MD, Global Outreach Division co-medical director.

“The eyes are truly a window into the whole health of a patient,” said Chaya. “We can identify many systemic diseases through a comprehensive eye exam. Diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia—even some types of cancer can be spotted in the eyes. Just getting an exam might be part of life-changing care for some patients.”

Made possible by sponsor Grandeur Peak Global Advisors of Salt Lake City, the clinic was a cooperative partnership between the Global Outreach Division, the Refugee and Immigrant Center - Asian Association of Utah, the International Rescue Committee, and the Utah Refugee Services Office. View a photo album from the event here.

People attending the clinic represented 20 countries from around the world, including Iraq, Bosnia, Myanmar, and Somalia. They spoke 16 different languages.

Moran providers donating their time to the clinic were:

  • Craig Chaya, MD
  • Alan Crandall, MD
  • Elizabeth Martin, MD
  • Nikko Ronquillo, MD, PhD
  • Akbar Shakoor, MD
  • David Meyer, OD
  • Dix Pettey, OD
  • Mark McKay, OD

About the John A. Moran Eye Center Global Outreach Division
Of the world’s 36 million blind people, more than 90 percent live in poverty in developing nations without access to modern eye care. They have lower life expectancies, and for every blind person, 2.5 people leave work or school to become caregivers. The John A. Moran Eye Center’s Global Outreach Division works to eliminate curable blindness by sustainably expanding access to eye care around the globe. In developing nations, the division trains doctors, nurses, and other eye care professionals, and restores sight to hundreds of patients during week-long medical camps. In Utah, the division provides charitable eye care to thousands of people across the state and on the Navajo Nation.

vision outreach refugee