American Indians suffer disproportionately from higher rates of preventable and treatable eye conditions due to a lack of access to affordable, quality eye care. Some of the most prominent barriers to care include poverty, geographic isolation, and the lack of linguistically and culturally appropriate eye care providers.
Seva’s goal with the American Indian Sight Initiative (AISI) is to improve eye health through collaborative, locally based partnerships. We focus on the most common and treatable eye health issues found in American Indian communities including the need for eye health screening, medical treatment, and eyeglasses. With local partners in New Mexico, Alaska, Washington, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, we are reducing the barriers to quality eye care in American Indian communities.
Last year, one of Seva’s AISI partners, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC), provided care to more than 20,000 Native American patients in central Oklahoma. Among them was Skyler, a 22-year woman who was struggling with frequent headaches and poor vision. This led to many missed days of work and impacted her performance on the job. Despite having had these issues for some time, Skyler had not been able to get an eye exam for over five years because of stringent restrictions at her local eye care provider, which allowed care for only minor children, or senior citizens.
Through the partnership with Seva, OKCIC was able to expand their capacity for treatment by 33%, and allowed them to offer new services, including contact lenses. This in turn enabled OKCIC to drop patient restrictions and opened the door for Skyler to receive care. Since receiving her new pair of glasses, Skyler reports that her vision has vastly improved and now she can work all day on her computer without getting headaches.
Seva's American Indian Sight Initiative focuses on the most common and treatable eye health issues found in American Indian communities. We work with our partners to increase access to eye screenings, eyeglasses, and eye care.
JoVonna Rosetta grew up on the Santo Domingo Pueblo near Santa Fe, New Mexico. After losing her glasses halfway through high school, she was unable to cover the cost of a new pair. Without glasses, JoVonna's grades suffered. "I was sitting in the front row and still couldn't see the board," she laughs, recalling her teacher's solution to sit next to a classmate who takes good notes.
Santa Fe Public Radio recently interviewed Seva's Executive Director, Jack Blanks, about the launch of our new American Indian Sight Initiative. The podcast of this interview is available online and we invite you to learn more about this exciting new initiative serving Native American communities throughout New Mexico.
For over 30 years, Seva and our donors have been committed to improving the health and wellbeing of American Indian communities throughout the United States.
For over 30 years, Seva Foundation's Native American program has been providing support to Native American communities. This year, we are proud to announce the launch of a new focus, the American Indian Sight Initiative, a U.S. based program focused on addressing vision needs among Native Americans.
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