By Umangi Popat
Six years ago, I never would have thought that a charity focused on solving the world’s vision care crisis would become such an immense part of the fabric of my life. When I started working at a LensCrafters in 2013, I had no clue what OneSight was. Then in the summer of 2014, I went to my first OneSight clinic in Fishkill, NY and was forever changed. Beyond providing eye care to kids who needed it, I was able to give them love and kindness. In return, I was able to leave with a very full heart – not only from connecting with the kids but from bonding with the other members of my team. At the end of our clinic, I remember looking out my window at the Hudson on my train ride back to Manhattan and thinking that I had just experienced something very special.
Later in 2014, I attended another clinic in the northern part of India. That clinic was particularly meaningful to me since I am of Indian descent. I distinctly recall a man who had walked many kilometers with his cane to come see us. Upon examining him, I discovered that he was extremely nearsighted and had a high amount of astigmatism. I was awestruck that he managed to make it to our clinic because he could not see anything beyond a few centimeters in front of his face. When I finally put a pair of glasses on his face, he told me he could actually see me and what I looked like. My heart melted at the sound of those words and the smile on his face was simply priceless.
India Clinic 2014. The man from my story.
That was the first of many life-changing stories I would encounter. In the years following my first two clinics, I went on to attend domestic clinics in Fishkill, NY and Bakersfield, CA as well as international clinics in China, Zambia, Nicaragua, Chile, and India. Each of these clinics allowed us to profoundly change the lives of so many people. It’s one thing to donate to a charity and support a good cause from afar, but to be in the thick of it is something different entirely. Being part of this work with OneSight not only allowed me to help others physically and emotionally but also had the unexpected benefit of helping ME feel joy as well. Every experience I’ve had has been special and meaningful in its own right and I feel privileged to have had so many opportunities to feed my soul while enriching the lives of others around the world. For this, I am eternally grateful.
Zambia Clinic 2016. Aman who has retinitis pigmentosa whom only a had very limited central viewing area. These glasses helped make that area clearer. He was so grateful.
Want to hear more about our volunteer doctor’s experience with OneSight? Read our latest Q&A with Dr. Emily Konczal.