Doctors with North Cascade Eye Associates in Washington have built upon years of medical mission work to form Eyewitness Missions, a volunteer group dedicated to providing eye care to countries in need.
Mt. Vernon, WA – It’s been estimated that about 285 million people around the world suffer from vision impairment, and about 90% of those people are classified as “low-income.” In fact, untreated refractive errors such as nearsightedness and farsightedness are known to be the main cause of severe visual impairment, and cataracts are said to be the leading cause of blindness, in countries designated as “middle-income” or “low-income.” Mount Vernon and Skagit Valley eye doctors at North Cascade Eye Associates have for years been working to change those statistics, and they recently formed a new non-profit organization to help impoverished people around the world obtain vision-saving eye care.
Dr. Dan Siapco and Dr. Carlindo Pereira are the leaders of Eyewitness Missions, a group made up of volunteer eye and vision care professionals, as well as non-medical professionals such as translators, organizers, and assistants. Although Eyewitness Missions was granted non-profit status in 2014, doctors and others with the group have actually been volunteering their services to needy countries for many years, travelling with other medical aid organizations to areas in Kenya, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Paraguay, and many others. Wendy Siapco, the Secretary of Eyewitness Missions, says cataract surgery in particular is a major need. She notes that, here in America, cataracts can often be removed before they cause complete vision loss; but, in other parts of the world where care is not as available, volunteer eye surgeons often end up reversing blindness by removing a cataract that has remained untreated for a lengthy period of time.
Siapco also says Eyewitness Missions provides not only surgical services, but also general optical needs such as eyeglasses. In fact, she notes, all three of North Cascade Eye Associates’ locations accept old pairs of glasses that will be cleaned and distributed to individuals in countries Eyewitness Missions visits.
While many of the group’s volunteers have aligned with other non-profit aide organizations on previous missions, Siapco says Eyewitness Missions’ new non-profit status, in addition to support from sponsors and medical supply companies, has now given it the freedom to either join other groups or organize its own relief effort. She says the feeling of humanity and community service shared by the volunteers has instilled the desire to provide as many medical missions as possible, and increase the number of trips performed each year. “The needs are great and giving the gift of vision is an incredible privilege.”
About North Cascade Eye Associates
North Cascade Eye Associates was established more than 25 years ago and has locations in Mt. Vernon, Sedro-Woolley, Anacortes, Bellingham, Whidbey Island and Stanwood, Washington. It offers comprehensive eye and vision care services such as LASIK laser vision correction, cataract surgery, pediatric eye care, optical services, and treatments for conditions such as glaucoma and dry eye syndrome. The practice is known for its commitment to volunteerism and outreach both in its own communities and abroad. North Cascade Eye Associates was recently named the 2014 Skagit Publishing People’s Choice Award for Best Vision Center – its seventh straight year of achieving that recognition.
North Cascade Eye Associates
2100 Little Mountain Ln
Mt. Vernon, WA 98274
2131 Hospital Drive
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284
26910 92nd Ave NW #C6
Stanwood, WA 98292