April 6, 2013

Optometrist's eyes opened by Nicaraguan poverty


When people live off less than a dollar a day, he said, they tend not to have ever seen an eye doctor, and they were very appreciative of the service.

“The people we served were in very, very impoverished conditions,” Mitsoglou said.


He doesn’t want to limit himself to helping out in just foreign countries, though.

Home again, he planned to start off by giving discounts on new eyeglass frames in exchange for accepting their old eyewear.

And, he said, he may play off of what the Toms shoe company does, donating a pair of shoes for someone in need every time a pair is bought.

Mitsoglou said he’ll to do the same with eyeglasses at Mati Eyecare.

And he would love to inspire more people to give back to their own community, as well.

“It’ll make me feel better and will probably make other people feel better, too,” he said.

Along with extending his desire to give back at home, he said, his trip provided him a deeper insight.


Mitsoglou had traveled to third-world countries before, including the Dominican Republic, where he was an observer rather than participant.

But in Nicaragua, he said, “because it was so intimate and personal ... I was more sensitized to (people’s) needs.

“It touched me deeply that people were so appreciative of a used pair of glasses that somebody donated.”

Mitsoglou worked side by side with another Mission of Hope volunteer, Bill Calmbacher of Schroon Lake, who would fit patients with glasses while he gave eye exams.

They had limited hours that they could work, but he said that he was able to treat a great number of patients.

“In many cases, they were able to see things they haven’t before,” Dr. Mitsoglou said. “It put a smile on their faces, and that’s all I could ask for.”



Check out video from the Mission of Hope with this article.


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