Pacific EyeVan & Partners Hit the Road Providing Much Needed Community Outreach
Pacific University’s College of Optometry EyeVan hit the road this spring for the first time since the pandemic — opening the door to much needed local and international community outreach this summer as well.
“It was so incredibly exciting to be able to finally get back out to these communities that are so underserved in vision and health care needs,” said Carol Rymer, optometry associate professor.
A team of 10 Pacific optometry students, along with a faculty and staff member, treated 115 patients during a spring break 2022 outreach mission in eastern Oregon in collaboration with the OHSU Casey Eye Institute and AMIGOS Eye Care.
Community members from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, as well as members of multicultural and Latinx communities were treated for various ocular conditions at the Asher Community Health in Fossil and the Warm Springs Health and Wellness. Patients ranged in ages from 15 to 90 years old.
"As a second year optometry student this was one of my first interactions with the general public providing eyecare, it was extremely rewarding,” said Nathan Patterson OD '24.
"Seeing the need for eyecare in our own backyard has driven me even more to be the best I can be."
Summer 2022 Outreach
The EyeVan fired up its engines again this summer. A domestic service trip in July with Amigos took place in Salem in collaboration with VSP and the Casey Eye Institute.
The first Amigos international trip since the pandemic is scheduled in August to Ixcan, Guatemala with the support of partner Enfoque Ixcan, which opened a local eye clinic in the Ixcan region this past year.
“On top of the diverse clinical experience, the exchange between the multidisciplinary professional environment builds bonds and connections. These relationships unite our healthcare front,” Rymer said.
A Mission of Service
Part of the mission and values of the College of Optometry is “to serve the community and to provide an educational experience that conveys multicultural competence, coupled with an enhanced awareness and appreciation of a diverse and changing society.”
AMIGOS Eye Care, a nonprofit of students and doctors affiliated with the Pacific University College of Optometry and VOSH/International, is dedicated to providing free quality vision care to underserved people throughout the world. Previous trips in 2018 and 2019 helped patients in Costa Rica, Belize, Senegal, China and the Columbia River Gorge.