Newfoundlanders sharing the gift of eyesight in Nicaragua

Team Broken Earth and members of the Lions Club are wrapping up a mission to bring eye care to Nicaraguans in need.

Eye care clinic opens in Chinandega to administer eye exams, hand out new glasses

Optometrist Yvette Webb visited Nicaragua to help set up an eye care clinic with team Broken Earth. (Submitted)

Team Broken Earth and members of several branches of the Lions Club in Newfoundland and Labrador are wrapping up a life-changing mission in Nicaragua to bring eye care to residents in need.

A team of 10 has been in the city of Chinandega for the past week and a half, helping set up an optometry clinic, conducting eye exams and handing out refurbished eyeglasses to residents being bused in from some of the smallest and poorest towns in the country.

"We've seen a lot of people come into the clinic who are quite elderly and it's their first eye exam," said Newfoundland optometrist Yvette Webb. 

Nicaraguans visiting the clinic wait to be seen. Many of them had never received eye exams before visiting. (Submitted)

Webb said many of those people have never worn eyeglasses in their entire life, and the change from living with imperfect vision to seeing the world in 20/20 has been life-altering.

"We actually all like to gather and see them get their glasses because their reactions is a bit overwhelming," she said.

"There's points where you are very filled up with emotion, but you're also very happy to make a difference for these people."

This is a pair of broken glasses one of the visitors to the clinic had replaced. (Submitted)

It's an extension of a program that began with trips to Haiti in 2015 and Nicaragua in 2016.

All the glasses used at the clinic were collected from donations to the Lions Club by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and recycled for use by people in need by inmates at Bishop Falls Correctional Centre

An official from Team Broken Earth said the partnership has provided over 4,000 eye exams and given free eyeglasses to nearly 3,000 patients in five international clinics in Haiti and Nicaragua. 

With files from Todd O'Brien