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College Students and Faculty Provide Eye Care to Over 1,350 Patients in Guatemala


Jennifer Chinn (’15) performing retinoscopy with College faculty Drs. Linda Marks and Christine Gavett in the background

In the last issue of the EyeWire, we devoted an article to how devoted our faculty are to being involved in vision service mission trips to foreign countries.  This is in addition to our College of Optometry having one of the most productive and engaged Student Volunteers of Optometric Services to Humanity organizations in the country.  From February 10 – 21, Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Linda Marks and Assistant Clinical Professor Dr. Christine Gavett (’91) and UMSL students Jennifer Chinn (’15), Aaryn McComb (’15), Lindsay Schad (’15), Nicole Ethridge (’16), and Shannon Niere (’16) were part of a 10 member I Care International team that traveled to Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala to provide vision care to those in need.  Their team examined a total of 1357 patients.  In addition to vision screenings and dispensing of glasses to those in need, volunteers also checked blood pressure and – as a result of having an ophthalmologist on staff – they were able to refer 69 patients for ocular surgery.


UMSL faculty and students with their team.  Front Row (left to right): Nicole Ethridge (’16), Jennifer Chinn (’15), and Aaryn McComb (’15).  Back Row (left to right): Shannon Niere (’16), Dr. Linda Marks (3rd from left), and Dr. Christine Gavett (4th from left)

Dr. Marks greatly enjoyed the experience and was impressed by the work of the UMSL students: “I Care International was extremely appreciative of the highly skilled UMSL interns that were a part of this clinic team.  I heard many times during the trip how invaluable UMSL students have been to both this trip and previous I Care clinic missions. I was impressed by the work ethic of the interns and the creativity they used to help each patient.”  To the students, of course, the experience was an outstanding experience, both educationally and the heartwarming feeling of improving the quality of life of a large number of those in need as Nicole relates: “The trip was really, really fantastic. We saw lots of interesting pathology and were able to serve many patients with no access to eye care.”


At the Mayan Ruins in Tikai, Guatemala  (left to right): Shannon Niere (’16), Jennifer Chinn (’15), and Nicole Ethridge (’16)