In the Philippines, economic conditions make access to vision screenings and cataract surgeries a luxury for many. But a glimmer of hope emerged for people in need when we hosted a program in the Province of Pangasinan. Our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Levenson worked alongside host ophthalmologist Dr. Frederico Malubay to restore sight to hundreds in this community.
Supported by our exceptional partners Johnson & Johnson Vision and HCP Cureblindness, this initiative defied the odds and brought hope to more than 600 individuals in need. Every patient we encountered had a unique journey and a life profoundly transformed by these surgeries.
Among those served were the following individuals whose stories showcase the incredible impact of this program:
Meet Corazón, a dedicated 68-year-old teacher at a child development center who found herself in a challenging situation. She needed an eye operation but was unable to afford it. Despite visiting several clinics and receiving recommendations for cataract removal, the financial burden of paying for the surgery seemed insurmountable. To make matters more pressing, she also had a child with diabetes who required costly dialysis treatment.
However, a glimmer of hope emerged when Corazón learned about our sight-restoring program that could provide her with the surgery she desperately needed, free of cost. Without hesitation, she hurried to the clinic, eager for a chance at a better future. Our dedicated medical team was able to restore her sight.
Filled with immense gratitude, Corazón expressed her heartfelt appreciation: “I am deeply thankful to all the doctors and staff involved in my journey. It brings me great joy to share the incredible work you do for people like me,” she said. “Many of us face financial constraints that make accessing these life-changing operations impossible. Yet, you have touched the lives of countless individuals, providing them with the precious gift of sight. From the depths of my heart, thank you!”
Meet Willie, a resilient 68-year-old widower who faced numerous challenges because of his impaired eyesight. Due to cataracts, he was unable to work. His daily life was marked by solitude whenever his child was at work, leaving Willie alone in the house struggling to navigate with caution as he tried to complete tasks like cooking. Even previously simple tasks like grocery shopping became a daunting endeavor, as his impaired vision made it unsafe for him to venture out on his own.
Willie found out about our program through his cousin and knew he had to do everything he could to make it to our clinic. Once he arrived, our medical team was able to restore his sight! “I can see clearly now out of my one eye, and this makes me very happy,” said Willie. “A lot of Filipinos can’t afford an eye operation so I hope there will be more medical missions in the country like this to help more people have their sight back. Thank you so much. God bless and more power!”
Meet Josefina, a strong 70-year-old woman who acts as a caregiver for her sister. Since 2009, Josefina has been burdened with cataracts in both eyes, but has had to rely on glasses as a temporary solution due to financial constraints. Unfortunately, even with glasses, her vision eventually deteriorated to the point where she struggled to perform everyday tasks.
Fortunately, Josefina was able to make it to our clinic in Pangasinan. Gratitude filled her heart when she reflected on the transformative impact of her surgery. It improved her own quality of life and enabled her to continue caring for her sister. With restored vision in both eyes, Josefina rejoiced: “The operation went very well. I can see out of both eyes clearly now. I have nothing more to ask; God has answered my prayers. Thank you for all the help.”
These stories of hope and transformation show the importance of programs like these. By restoring sight, we enhance the lives of individuals in need and empower them to fulfill their roles in their families and communities. As we celebrate the journeys of Corazón, Willie, Josefina, and many others, we are inspired to continue providing accessible and life-changing eyecare services to those who need it most.
We have three more sight-restoring programs scheduled in the Philippines this year, where our medical teams plan to serve another 1,000 people! Keep an eye out for updates from those programs as we continue restoring sight throughout the region.