Monday, January 7, 2013


In the medical field, a designation of 20/20 is considered "perfect vision". Now, there are some that can see "better than perfect" at 20/15, and somewhere around 10% of the human population can physiologically achieve even 20/10 vision. As an Optometrist, my goal with every patient is 20/20, or what the medical community considers "perfect vision".

I had a very wise instructor in Optometry School teach me that there is a very big difference between "20/20" and something that he called "20/Happy".  The gist of his lesson was that there are some people whom you can never please. They are 20/15, but want to be 20/10. There are also others that are 20/50 and pleased as they can be with how they see. These are the people that he called "20/Happy".

Today was a very good day in Kenya. I was blessed to witness a lot of 20/Happy. Every day that we have been here I have encountered dozens of people with vision so bad that they literally can only see light and some movement. The causes for their vision loss vary--severe cataracts, retinal detachments, eye trauma, and end-stage glaucoma. All of these have been so sad for me to witness. Yes, I deal with this kind of thing back in The States, too--just not dozens and dozens of them all in one day.

I had one little 80 year old man today come in unable to see anything far away. We were able to find him some glasses that helped him to see approximately 20/80.  They were a bright red swanky women's frame, and I'm tellin' you, he was lookin' fly on his way out of our little dirt-floored mud hut. His head was held high. He had the biggest grin on his face.  His chest was puffed out.  He was the king of the world. . . . . and 20/happy!

The one that nearly brought me to tears though, was the 75 year old little woman who came in with the assistance of her nephew.  Unable to get any kind of measurable vision, I just punted and reverted back to some of my old-school low vision lessons. I outfitted her with some glasses that I hoped would provide any kind of vision whatsoever. As soon as I put them on her face, she turned to look at her nephew (who was helping with the very complicated translation--English to Swahili and then Swahili to some other language I can't even pronounce).  She got the biggest smile on her face, tears in her eyes, and with a choked and raspy voice said (in whatever crazy language it was) that she could see her nephew's face for the first time in years!

THAT, my friends, is 20/happy!!!!!

We have 2 more days of eye clinics. I look forward to more opportunities to help people achieve their 20/happy. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful endeavor.

I have been constantly reminded on this trip that everything is relative. My hope is that I will be constantly reminded of what is really important in this world and to always view life through 20/happy eyes.

May you experience a 20/happy kind of day!

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