Finding a path for a clearer future

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    SEEING is believing. However, a Philippine Eye Research Institute of the National Institute for Health study reports that 1.112 million Filipinos suffer from cataracts in one or both of their eyes. And it can be difficult for Filipinos to get treated, especially for the rural poor.

    In Nueva Ecija, CAROL Eye Center, which first opened its doors 10 years ago, has helped many farmers from Gapan, Cabanatuan, and neighboring towns and cities, to have their vision restored, all without having to pay a hefty fee.

    The eye center is the landmark project of the CAROL Foundation Inc., a philanthropic effort founded by businesswoman Carolina Aves De Jesus in 1998 as her way of giving back and sharing the blessings she received in life.

    The CAROL Foundation focused on cleft lip surgeries at the beginning then partnered with LGUs in different provinces for medical missions.

    On the suggestion of Dr. Edgar Capara, the foundation focused instead on cataract surgeries in Nueva Ecija.

    After tying up with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the foundation built a permanent facility as required by the agreement.

    The Eye Center now offers pterygium and foreign body removal, repositioning and exchange of the intraoptical lens, chalazion treatment, PRP and YAG laser treatment, and trabeculectomy. It also brought in eye specialists from major hospitals such as St. Luke’s, Medical City, and Chinese General Hospital.

    Patients undergo a visual acuity test to determine exact conditions and treatment modality. Patients scheduled for operation are prepped for surgery which is usually completed in minutes. A chapel is also located near the lobby where patients can offer prayers.

    The pandemic temporarily paused the eye center’s operations but CAROL Foundation took that opportunity to prepare the facility for the new operational guidelines needed to ensure the safety of everyone, such as temperature checks, contact tracing paperwork, alcohol availability.

    Carol Foundation has continued with medical missions in provinces like Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Viscaya, Laguna, Batangas, Mindoro and Palawan in Luzon, and Bohol and Bacolod in Visayas. Despite movement restrictions, De Jesus remains positive about serving other places when it is safe to do so once again.

    “There are a lot of people who are stuck in the dark in these troubled times and we hope that with our efforts, we can bring some light to their lives,” she said