MedICamp Corneal Blindness Initiative

In June of 2018 Pacific ClearVision Foundation partnered with a UC San Diego student organization called MedICamp to create a Corneal Blindness Prevention Project. MedICamp fundraises money throughout the year to fund free surgeries at a hospital in Bareilly, India. At the end of the year, students fly to India to donate the money and shadow the doctors performing the surgeries.

Dr. Ambati and MedICamp students reached out to several businesses to find affordable sunglasses. The ClearVision Foundation purchased 200 of these sunglasses for MedICamp students to pass out to rural construction workers during their June 2019 India trip. Farmers in India typically work without sunglasses and frequently get corneal scratches or infections from vegetable matter, which can lead to corneal scarring and loss of vision.  Also, they get conjunctival growths (pterygia) and cataracts at a younger age in life than most people due to UV exposure. 

After the Foundation purchased the sunglasses, the students of Medicamp attached straps on the back so that farmers could wear these comfortably in the fields. The hope being that these strapped sunglasses will reduce the risk of corneal injury and other eye problems. Students then designed a pictorial brochure in Hindi to educate people about why they should wear the glasses and protect their eyes. This simple prevention will hopefully save patients from an expensive and largely inaccessible corneal transplant.

MedICamp members returned from India with positive reports of handing out the sunglasses. One student said, “Passing the glasses out was a gratifying experience, it was the culmination of a lot of people’s hard work. Seeing how happy some of the recipients of the glasses were was a great moment.” Another student mentioned that she was surprised by “how willing and happy some people looked when they got the glasses. Seeing that little joy in the people puts into perspective your own life and the things you take for granted”.

While we all learn of the larger things organizations do to help those around the world, often it is the small initiatives such as this one that can have a large effect on people’s lives. This is part of what helps motivate the ClearVision Foundation us to continue working on even small interventions in hopes of a greater impact.