By Paolena Comouche
Content Writer/Special Projects
In March of 2020, SEE’s programs were paused due to travel and safety restrictions brought upon by the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to our domestic and international programs being paused, our local Santa Barbara Vision Care Program (SBVC) closed to ensure the safety of our staff and patients. Although these clinics were physically closed, SEE continued to provide vouchers to patients in need of eyeglasses. In October, SBVC finally reopened all of our clinics with safety guidelines in place. We are thrilled to have our clinics open once again, and would like to take this time to share the efforts of one of SEE’s SBVC optometrists Dr. Karen Garrety as she reflects on the many months of closure and how she continued to help patients in need of vision care during this time.
Through these unprecedented times of COVID-19, more and more individuals have been in need of the gift of sight. As we spend more time in front of our digital devices for work, and children and college students have to attend school virtually, it has become paramount to have reliable vision to perform routine activities. Children who may not have needed glasses before the pandemic are now experiencing headaches brought upon by digital vision syndrome after engaging in virtual distance learning for almost six months.
Since March, many vision care offices have been closed or have reduced their hours of operation. Additionally, many individuals across the nation have lost their vision insurance after losing their jobs, some of which have not been able to qualify for MEDI-CAID to afford glasses or cover the costs of more serious problems such as diabetic eye care.
Now more than ever, it is necessary to reach out to our community to provide the vision care services they need.
When the Goleta office was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, we accumulated a large backlog of patients. However, during this closure, I continued to help SEE patients in my Oxnard practice for the Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. When an uninsured patient that cannot afford care visits my office, I refer them to schedule an appointment through SEE so that they may be seen in the Oxnard location, or I provide them with our surgical form so that they can be seen by SEE’s ophthalmological partners.
In this way I know I am continuing SEE’s mission to help our community and provide the gift of sight.
– Dr. Karen Garrety
SEE is thankful for Dr. Garrety’s ongoing commitment to serving our community and supporting our cause. If you or anyone else you know may have inquiries about SEE’s services, please contact our SBVC clinic at (805)-963-3303 or call our toll-free number at (877)-937-3133.