Optometry Student Selected to Serve at Volunteer Clinic in Mexico
Grace Anderson OD ’19, a third-year student at Pacific University’s College of Optometry, will travel to Central Mexico in May to work alongside other trained volunteers providing eye care to residents of Oaxaca.
Anderson is among 40 optometry students from around that country who were chosen by OneSight to help run its charitable clinics in Mexico this spring. OneSight is a nonprofit that provides vision care and glasses to underserved communities around the world.
Some students, including Anderson, will help run its clinic in Oaxaca (pronounced wah-haak-kah), while others will staff its clinic in Puebla, another city in Central Mexico.
Each year, OneSight volunteers run clinics serving populations (often in remote parts of the world) that lack access to eye care because of high costs and other factors. OneSight partners with Italian eyewear maker Luxottica Group to provide glasses to clinic patients.
In Mexico, Anderson and other optometry students will work under the supervision of Luxottica Retail-affiliated optometrists. They will perform comprehensive eye exams and help with frame fitting, manufacturing and dispensing eyewear. They’ll also screen patients to determine if they need higher levels of care and educate patients on sun exposure and eye care.
OneSight organizers expect the students to see more patients during the one-week clinics than they might during a yearlong rotation.
“I almost started crying,” Anderson said, recalling her reaction when she learned that she had been selected to participate in the OneSight clinic in Oaxaca. “I re-read the email multiple times before I could believe it. It still feels surreal.”
Originally from Idaho City, Idaho, Anderson has deeply personal reasons for pursuing a career in optometry and community service.
After getting her bachelor’s from Montana Tech, and while pursuing her master’s in soybean genetics at Pittsburg State University, Anderson’s left eye began showing signs of a retinal detachment. She had surgery to correct the condition, but the episode piqued her interest in optometry.
Post-surgery, she began working as a technician in an optometry office, where she fell in love with the practice. The doctors there influenced her decision to apply to optometry school. Pacific was her first choice for its outstanding faculty and renowned program.
As a student at Pacific, Anderson has seized opportunities to put her training to work for underserved communities. In August 2017, she helped to lead an AMIGOS Eye Care trip to Guatemala. AMIGOS is a nonprofit organization of students, doctors and lay people affiliated with Pacific’s College of Optometry. It provides quality vision care at no cost to underserved communities in the Portland area and beyond.
In Guatemala, Anderson was part of a team that cared for more than 1,200 patients over four days. Some patients had minor issues, while others had vision-impairing cataracts and diseases and disorders rarely seen in the United States.
After graduation, Anderson hopes to work for the federal Indian Health Service, seeing patients in areas with limited access to medical care. Being raised in a town of less than 500 people, she has a heart for outreach and working in rural communities.
“My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so I know what it’s like to not have a lot,” Anderson said. “I hope to gain a sense of stronger community by bettering the lives of people who don’t have access to this kind of care.”