Dr. Ronald Pugh believes the old saying that seeing is believing. That is why he organizes missions to Mexico and gives out refurbished pairs of eyeglasses.

Pugh founded Utah Volunteer Optometrist and recently obtained a charter for a Utah chapter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity. Both groups collect used eyeglasses, clean and label them, and then distribute them to needy people in poorer countries.Joining the international organization gives Pugh access to more resources, he said. Either he or other volunteers used to clean, sort, label and bag all the glasses they collected. Now they can exchange them with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity for pairs that are ready to be distributed.

The international organization sends all of its glasses to a prison in Illinois where inmates do the cleaning and labeling.

Pugh and a group of Utah and Mexican optometrists saw 2,300 people in a March 1993 mission and gave out 2,500 glasses.

Doctors see 250 people each day, Pugh said. Those people preregister and are assured of being seen, although the group may run out of correct prescriptions before everyone is seen, he said.

Because eye care is so important, and so rare for many of the poor, Pugh said his group sees as many people as possible. On the last day of one visit, after seeing the scheduled 250 people, Pugh's group examined an additional 350 people.

Because of the high demand, every volunteer is responsible for gathering 300 pairs of glasses and for paying his or her way to Mexico, Pugh said. Once there, the Mexican Lions Club houses and feeds the volunteers during their weeklong stay.

Myron Crandall, a 23-year-old student at Brigham Young University and a full-time employee at DHI Computing Services, is collecting glasses for a March 1994 trip.

Crandall, who speaks fluent Spanish, said he wanted to help the less fortunate. He has collected between 500 and 600 eyeglasses from doctors in northern Utah, but he still has to clean and tag all of them.

Pugh takes thousands of glasses to Mexico, but he called his missions "a drop in the bucket" when compared to everyone who needs eyeglasses.

Normal missions provide an eye exam and a pair of used glasses. On some occasions, though, surgical help is provided, Pugh said.

Pugh has trips planned for March and June 1994. The June trip has approximately 50 volunteers, he said.

"I can't even begin to describe what it's like to see a child see for the first time," said Cheryl Thacker, the receptionist at Pugh's Spanish Fork office. She and her husband have been on several missions with Pugh.



Where to donate used eyeglasses

Used eyeglasses may be donated at Dr. Pugh's offices:

325 West Center

Spanish Fork, UT 84660


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