Letters from Guatemala by AMIGOS

The AMIGOS 2023 Guatemala team

AMIGOS Eye Care is a non-profit organization of students, doctors and lay people affiliated with Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Oregon. AMIGOS is dedicated to providing quality vision care at no cost to underserved people in the Portland area and throughout the world.

AMIGOS went on a mission to Guatemala in August 2023.

Letter from Dr. Jessica Lynch

Dr. Jessica Lynch

In August, I had the immense pleasure of accompanying three doctors, six Amigos students, a Spanish translator, and my husband on a journey to Playa Grande, Guatemala for the 20th collaboration between Amigos Eye Care and Enfoque Ixcán. It was a journey filled with reunions, new experiences, and the joy of making a meaningful impact on the lives of the Ixcán people.

What made this trip particularly special was that all three of the doctors were former Amigos alums, and two of them had previously been on Guatemala trips with Enfoque Ixcán co-founder Dr. Scott Pike as students. It marked my second time leading the trip and my sixth visit to Guatemala. I was thrilled to share the beauty of Guatemala with our group and introduce them to its warm and generous people.

(Source: AMIGOS)

In total, we provided eye care to 650 individuals. Out of these, fifty will receive some form of eye surgery, with the majority needing cataract surgery. Cataract patients are often associated with the elderly, but that’s not always the case.

One of our early cataract patients was Laura, a four-year-old who had been in an accident, resulting in a traumatic cataract in her right eye, turning her lens a milky-white color. Laura’s parents brought her in because they noticed her vision deteriorating, and they were concerned about her future.

(Source: AMIGOS)

In September, our surgical team took Laura and her family to the clinic in San Benito Peten, where, despite a complex surgery, we successfully restored vision in her right eye. Laura is expected to have normal distance vision thanks to the generous support of our donors, who made this care possible.

As a parent of four children myself, I can only imagine the anxiety and relief that Laura’s parents must have felt when they learned that Laura’s blindness could be cured. It’s moments like these that remind us of the profound impact of our work and the importance of your support.

Letter from Meagen Seufert

Meagen Seufert

My experience serving the people of Guatemala was profound, especially as a student able to compare my normal patient base that have normal access to preventative care to patients of the Ixcán region who tend to have severe disease by the time they are able to receive care.

However, one encounter in particular at the school in the remote village of San Juan Chacleta was especially impactful. During acuity screening, one of the young 10-year old boys was flagged for having low acuities. He had a very low affect and didn’t seem to want to engage. Additional testing showed pathological myopia, with a spherical equivalent of approximately 15
diopters in his right eye and 11 diopters in his left eye, making his entire world of clear vision limited to only 10 centimeters in front of him. He had never had an eye exam and had never worn glasses previously.

While we placed an order for his correction, we gave him the strongest glasses that we had with us, which only corrected about half of his refractive error. Even a temporary small change was enough to change his world. With his full correction, he will have a much greater chance of success.

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