A north Portland optometrist has launched a program to fill a substantial need within Portland’s immigrant and refugee community.
Dr. Summy To, owner of Myoptic Optometry and Modern Eyewear, 3978 N. Williams Ave., is starting an initiative to provide eye health screening and testing to residents served by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, many of whom have never had their eyes examined.
Many IRCO clients are recent arrivals to America. Founded in 1976, the organization works to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and long-term contributors to the economy and our multi-ethnic community.
In July Myoptic Optometry set up exam facilities for the first time at IRCO headquarters in northeast Portland, and after gathering patient names, dates of birth and any medical histories, spent the morning conducting eye examinations.
The exams included an overall eye health preventive assessment, basic checks of visual acuity at a distance and near, checks of muscle teaming and examination of the retina to screen for glaucoma.
“The vision screenings allow us to identify vision impairments that could be signs of more serious eye disease. Beyond that, we are performing dilated exams to evaluate ocular health, as well,” said Dr. To.
In the past, new arrivals to IRCO went through preliminary general health screening, but no vision or thorough eye testing was conducted.
“We do our best to provide as much assistance as possible for people in transition into life in the U.S. and here in Portland,” said an IRCO representative; “but the resources are simply not enough to do as much as we would like or to do or to be as thorough as we would like to be.”
In the course of the recent vision screenings, Dr. To would look for any visual impairment or eye diseases and schedule time for patients to receive a more comprehensive exam in her offices, free of charge.
“As we launch this new initiative, dedicating our time and resources to it, we’re also hoping other eye health professionals will step-up to join us,” said Dr. To. “It’s my belief there are many eye health professionals out there who would love the opportunity to be involved in this, if they were only aware of it. And, should we diagnose more serious or extensive health issues outside the scope of our own practice, we will definitely need the resources of other eye and medical experts help us treat those conditions.”
Dr. To pointed to the fact that the majority of those passing through the doors of IRCO are without health insurance or have inadequate insurance that does not cover eye care.
“For that reason,” said Dr. To, “We’re also asking the public to step-up to make financial contributions to a special eye health fund we’re setting up with IRCO to cover the cost of glasses, eye treatments and even surgery, if necessary.”
People can contribute by visiting the IRCO.org website and following steps to make a financial gift, or they can call IRCO at 503-234-1541 and ask about the IRCO Client Eye Health Fund specifically.
“It’s always been foundational for us to be involved in our community,” explained Dr. To, “and we’ve wanted to find a way to do more. We’ve found a need here and we’re taking an initial step to help.”