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Operation saving vision: Tzu Chi’s first eye mission in Ormoc

August 04, 2018 | Jushua Marga

New to Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), Dr. Jacquelyne Mupaz Uy had her debut with Tzu Chi at the eye mission. Her expertise in orbital surgery helped a lot of patients suffering from pterygium. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi Foundation conducted its first eye mission in Ormoc City on August 2 and 3, providing needed surgeries for 179 cataracts and pterygium cases.


Tzu Chi volunteers were occupied with setting up tents, unloading medical apparatus and supplies in Ormoc District Hospital on October 2 for what will be the lone free eye mission to have happened in this town in recent years.

Excitement is felt by the locals, including Tzu Chi volunteer Juanito Suco. He said the event is a blessing to his people.

“I am sure everyone is happy. These patients could barely see for years but after the operation they will be able to get back their vision. This is one of the most important aid Tzu Chi has given to Ormoc because our sight is the most important of all the senses,” said Suco.

But to carry out such a big mission needs an even bigger manpower. However, there are only a handful of local Tzu Chi volunteers in the area so they invited residents of Tzu Chi’s housing village in Barangay Liloan to support the event. They managed to recruit 26 villagers to volunteer.

Offering her time and strength is Erlinda Matugas’ way of helping since she does not have the money to extend or give to the needy. She also had the opportunity to visit some of the patients who successfully underwent the surgery. The experience opened her heart and led her to commit to this path.

“I will be a Tzu Chi volunteer up to the last breath of my life,” she declared.

Another challenge came up during the event. Three of the machines needed for the operation malfunctioned. Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) doctors and nurses from Manila were forced to conduct the surgeries manually, even if takes them until 11:00 p.m. on the first day.

Representatives and engineers from Carl Zeiss, an international optical and optoelectronic company that has been a partner of Tzu Chi’s eye missions for years, provided technical support.

“It is an honor to be part of this activity and not every organization is capable of doing this because it is hard but Tzu Chi has been doing this for a while and they have been successful. We are really happy to be a part of Tzu Chi to help other people. To be able to help is very rewarding. I want to share that feeling of happiness to everyone back in our company,” said John Anthony Castro, Application Specialist for Carl Zeiss Southeast Asia.

Despite the delay, TIMA doctors managed to operate on 179 eye patients throughout the mission’s run between August 2 and 3. Among these patients are 41 pterygium cases, 133 cataracts cases, and 5 special eye cases.

Orbit specialist Dr. Jacqueline Mupas-Uy conducted the ptyregium removal surgeries. She shared how fulfilling it was to offer her service and skills to the needy for free.

“Usually the condition of the patients’ eyes here are really severe cases. Most probably this is because of the shortage of eye specialists here in Ormoc.  Some supposedly non-serious ptyregium would become worst and would cover the whole eye. We rarely encounter this type of cases in our practice in Manila” shared Uy.

The first large-scale eye mission in Ormoc may have been riddled with challenges, but with sincere love and compassion, Tzu Chi volunteers, doctors, and nurses managed to overcome all these and change the lives of many patients.

  • Just before her cataract surgery starts, a patient takes a moment to pray for a successful operation. The two-day eye mission addressed the need for eye care services in Ormoc and in its neighboring towns. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • A Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) nurse explains to the procedure of surgery to a patient and her family members. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers demonstrate to some guests just how poor the patients’ vision is. The free cataract and pterygium surgeries is Tzu Chi’s way of helping these patients regain their confidence and lives back so that they may once again be productive citizens. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Wanting to pay forward the help, residents of Great Love Village, Tzu Chi’s housing community in Ormoc, volunteered to assist during the eye mission. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Before the surgeries begin, volunteers from Manila rechecks one of the microscopes that will be used. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Volunteer Juanito Suco (in gray) leads in setting up tents in front of Ormoc District Hospital. The tents will serve as waiting area for the patients and their family members. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Erlinda Matugas (rightmost) along with fellow residents of Tzu Chi Ormoc Great Love Village who registered to volunteer arrive early at the mission venue and await their task assignments. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Volunteers check the eyes of two patients with ptyregium. This eye ailment is a growing concern among the Ormoc locals, whose jobs often expose them under the heat of the sun. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Volunteers attend to a patient who needs to have her blood sugar checked. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • After a surgery, a patient is able to see again. She gestures a thumbs up to show her gratitude. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Before the surgeries, Tzu Chi volunteers carefully check the medical history of the patients to ensure their safety. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Technical support personnel from Carl Ziess, a German manufacturer of optical systems, immediately respond to fix the machine that broke down while the mission was on-going. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】

  • Tzu Chi's medical team treat the patients with utmost love and care, as they would to a family member. 【Photo by Jushua Marga】


  • 20180810 1st Tzu Chi Ormoc Cataract Mission for Indigent Patients

  • LAST UPDATED: September 20, 2018 10:09 AM