Since 2001, SEE volunteer Dr. Baxter McLendon has been working in Belize to provide free screenings and sight-restoring surgeries to individuals in need several times a year.
For about a decade, SEE has been partnering with the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired, a nonprofit organization committed to providing affordable and accessible eye care at five locations around the country. Through this partnership, SEE provides essential medical supplies needed for performing advanced sight-restoring surgeries. One of the main sites is the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired.
In January 2017, SEE held a program in Belize City, where volunteer surgeons performed the MSICS technique to restore sight to 75 patients blinded by cataracts. Since 2017, SEE has organized 11 trips to Belize, performing over 600 surgeries and serving over 1,000 patients.
Belize is a country in Central America with a large coastline on the Caribbean. More than half of the population lives in rural areas, where there is little access to health care services. Due to low accessibility and quality of medical care, citizens seek healthcare services outside of the country if they are able to.
Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in Belize, followed by glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. In 2010, the Pan American Health Organization and the Ministry of Health teamed up to create a National Eye Health Plan to address the growing issue of blindness and help restore sight to individuals in need. However, with only ten ophthalmologists living in the country, many citizens rely on organizations like SEE to receive vital eye care services.