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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 4:59 am | Fair 43º


SEE International Provides Free Eye Care to Veterans

Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International’s first Veterans Day event was a rousing success, serving more than 200 Santa Barbara residents. The event, which was held in association with Sansum Clinic on Nov. 9, honored the brave men and women who have fought to defend our country. Attendees, including veterans, children and other uninsured individuals, received free eye screenings and vouchers for free glasses at the Santa Barbara Eyeglass Factory. Thanks to everyone who joined us and made this year’s event a triumph for our community’s public health!

Over the course of the day, volunteer doctors and medical professionals conducted eye exams on a total of 162 people, 19 of whom were veterans and 29 of whom were children. In addition, the clinic made referrals for 47 people who suffered from more serious eye conditions, and scheduled 42 other individuals to attend a later free weekly clinic at Santa Barbara Vision Care. More than 85 vouchers for free glasses were distributed, thanks to the generosity of the Santa Barbara Eyeglass Factory.

Overall, the free Veterans Day clinic received glowing reviews from those in attendance. Steve Doling, a resident of Santa Barbara, praised the staff as “very efficient, nice and cooperative.” A 66-year old veteran who was wounded during the Vietnam War, Doling has undergone cataract removal surgery in both eyes, and received prescription bifocals from the Veterans Administration. Now, after being examined by Dr. Douglas Katsev at the Veterans Day Clinic, he sports a new pair of prescription glasses that will help further correct and maintain his vision.

SEE International hopes to make the Veterans Day Clinic an annual event, with an increasingly wider range of free services offered. According to CEO Randal Avolio, “Our whole organization is honored to host this event and serve those who have served our country so bravely and selflessly. Our aim is to restore sight and transform lives around the world. For SEE International, that starts here at home, in our own community.”

On Dec. 22, SEE International will also partner with the Santa Barbara Eyeglass Factory for a “Kid’s Day” event, where more than 100 school-age children will be provided with free eye exams and eye glasses.

Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization that provides medical, surgical and educational services by volunteer ophthalmic surgeons with the primary objective of restoring sight to disadvantaged blind individuals worldwide. Click here for more information.

Meanwhile, in addition to the Veterans Day Clinic and Kid’s Day, SEE International’s Santa Barbara Vision Care Program provides free eye exams twice weekly throughout the year to uninsured Santa Barbara County residents. For more information, contact SBVCP coordinator Lara Rich at 805.963.3303.

— Stephen Bunnell is the communications and analytics coordinator for Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International.

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