Seeing the Differences We Make In Our Communities

Aug 15, 2012 1:45 PM ET

From Berkley Pollard, Director, Clinical Quality Assurance, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.

Recently, I attended the National Urban League conference (NUL) in New Orleans to help with a program sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., which offered free vision evaluations to the neighboring communities.

The NUL conference is a national forum that helps create solutions to the challenges confronting African Americans and urban communities. Glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are the leading causes of blindness in African Americans.

This is the third year we’ve sponsored free evaluations and, for me, by far the most rewarding. At last year’s conference, it took us three days to convince a woman who was working at a nearby booth to get her eyes evaluated. She was convinced that she did not need a vision evaluation because she had 20/20 vision. After we explained to her that it was a quick process and wouldn’t cost her anything, she agreed.  The evaluation confirmed that she had 20/20 vision, but it also showed that she was at risk of having a detached retina. Without rapid treatment, her entire retina could detach, leading to vision loss or blindness.

The doctor explained to her that this was a medical emergency and she promised to seek immediate medical attention. I was so happy to see this same woman in New Orleans. She went to the doctor immediately following last year’s evaluations and got surgery later that same week. She was so thankful, that she asked if she could go through again this year just to make sure everything was OK.

Stories like this are why I love volunteering my time. We were able to evaluate the vision of 400 attendees this year. Some of them had never been to an eye care professional before in their lives. I am sure we made a difference in many more lives this year.

To learn more about the importance of frequent comprehensive eye exams and what tests they may include, please click here to read more information provided by the American Optometric Association.