Gloria let tears of joy roll down her cheeks as she put on her first pair of prescription glasses provided by JCF. She had come to the vision clinic with her daughter and granddaughter. She began crying as she looked at her granddaughter and told her “You’re so beautiful!” – seeing her granddaughter clearly for the first time.
JCF’s first project was a free vision Clinic in 2012 and has been conducted annually since. The students of JCF had a “clear vision” as to how they could meet the needs of those unable to afford vision care in Josephine County. In addition to receiving a full eye exam, patients were also screened for preexisting conditions and diseases including: cataracts, macular degeneration, hypertensive retinopathy, diabetic retinopathy, and amblyopia. Blood pressure was also checked in order to screen for diabetes and hypertension which can be detrimental to one’s health.
“Thank you for your service, schoolwork will be so much easier,”
- Through 2018, JCF has held six vision clinics that have served 800 residents in Josephine County of which 90% needed and received free glasses.
“It’s a great experience to be able to benefit someone who doesn’t have access to what can be an everyday necessity for many people. But to be able to experience the benefits hands on, that experience is unparalleled.”
- Certified medical professionals work with students at the first eight stations. The ninth station is handled by an optometrist who examines the patients’ eyes for any diseases and determines the appropriate prescription for each patient.
- These vision clinics expose students to new career opportunities and provide them with the confidence to perform newly acquired skills. Several students subsequently expressed interest in pursuing a career in this field.
Dr. Wilkening, Amigo Vision, and JCF’s partner in the Vision Clinics said, “It continues to bring me great pleasure to be able to utilize my knowledge to help others in need. Equally important, exposing high school students to optometry and the equipment in the field, opens a whole new world of opportunities for their future.”
JCF partners with Dr. Kurt Wilkening of Amigo Vision to make the free vision clinics possible. Amigo Vision is an organization that travels to developing third world countries providing full service eye care clinics.
Each JCF Vision Clinic is run by medical professionals who operate all the equipment needed to dilate and test patient eyes and to determine the prescription of existing eyeglasses. Students assist the medical professionals throughout the Vision Clinic. Both the patients and students benefit from these Vision Clinics. The patients get the free examination and new eyeglasses and the students learn new skills, gain confidence and leave with impactful patient stories, such as Gloria’s, that the students will carry with them.
Each year the location of the Vision Clinic changes to meet the needs of communities in Josephine County. So far there have been vision clinics at the Grants Pass Fairgrounds (2012), Illinois Valley High School in Cave Junction (2014), North Valley High School in Merlin (2015), Williams (2016), the Grants Pass Fairgrounds (2017), and Illinois Valley High School again (2018).