Tzu Chi’s Vision Care Returns in New York

Tzu Chi Medical Foundation  |  July 8, 2021
With the gradual reopening of New York City, the Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic in New York begins serving the community anew. Photo/Daphne Liu

Written by Daphne Liu
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

As the rate of COVID-19 vaccine delivery continues to increase, the Governor of New York announced on June 15 that New York would be fully reopened. Businesses, schools, or government agencies are gradually reopening and back on track. The city is slowly returning to its former prosperity.

Following this wave of reopening, Tzu Chi USA’s Northeast Region restarted community services that were interrupted due to the pandemic. As of the end of May, the Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic van has been parked outside the branch office in Flushing every other week to provide free eye exams and glasses for those in need, opening up 20 appointments each time. 

The mobile clinic mainly serves low-income or uninsured households, its bi-weekly operation attending to the vision health needs of the community while attracting many like-minded volunteers to participate.

The Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic operates for the first time in 2021 on May 26, aiming to serve the community twice a month at Tzu Chi USA’s Northeast Region office in Flushing, NY. Photo/Daphne Liu
Senior volunteer Wenxian Wang (middle) brings new volunteers to participate in the Vision Mobile Clinic’s outreach to learn and experience Tzu Chi’s spirit. Photo/Daphne Liu

Optometrist James Chuang, serving during Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic’s outreach, carefully examined the eyes of care recipients and provided suitable glasses for them.

Most of the patients we saw today are seniors; most of the patients are here for reading glasses. Because of COVID-19, everyone has been at home; no one has been able to get out to get glasses.

Annie Wang has been wearing glasses since she was young and suffered from cataracts and presbyopia as she got older. Recently, she underwent an operation on her right eye, and her vision is affecting her quality of life. Fortunately, Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic provides eye exams, and with the doctor’s careful instructions, she got her glasses in just an hour. 

In the case of another patient, the exam revealed that his prescription was high, and the mobile clinic didn’t have the appropriate lenses in stock. The volunteers provided a frame for the patient, and he took it to a designated optometrist to pick up the lenses. Tzu Chi volunteers work together to provide the services needed so that everyone could get the correct glasses.

Annie Wang (middle) is happy with the caring services from Tzu Chi volunteer Kristine Tzeng (left) and Kayle Liang (right), a recent recruit.
The majority of patients suffer from eye strain due to working from home during the pandemic. Photo/Daphne Liu

The reopening of Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic services in New York addresses vision care needs and brings light into the community, inspiring others to offer a helping hand. Tzu Chi USA Northeast Region began recruiting volunteers in April, and most are students. 

One of the new volunteers, Stephanie Zheng, grew up in the United States, although her parents are from Fuzhou, China. She is currently studying at John Jay College in New York, and found Tzu Chi’s website through a referral from a professor, then signed up to volunteer for community service. 

Since most of the patients who came speak Chinese, she was glad that she could help with translation and assist in other ways. “I will come next time, whether there’s food distribution, training courses, or any other activities,” she said. Learning of Tzu Chi’s areas of services in New York after several event participations, she hopes to continue expressing her dedication to the community.

Stephanie Zheng, who learned about Tzu Chi online, volunteers during Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic’s outreach. Photo/Daphne Liu

Another volunteer, Kira Lin, is currently in her senior year of medical school, intending to become an ophthalmologist. The experience of participating in Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic’s outreach is her best internship opportunity.

It’s a great experience to interact with various patients from different conditions and age groups; also, a great practice to train ourselves to be comfortable talking to patients.

From the end of May to the end of June, Tzu Chi’s Vision Mobile Clinic vans offered outreach twice to Flushing, New York. A total of 32 individuals benefited from their service in the community, which will continue in Flushing twice a month. And, as always, Tzu Chi USA Northeast Region volunteers aim to serve those in need and hope to recruit new volunteers to better help the community.

Kayle Liang (left), a new community volunteer, makes glasses for the first time in the Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic van, while Tzu Chi volunteer Han Yang (right) offers guidance and assistance. Photo/Daphne Liu
Jenny Ma, a new volunteer optometrist, joins Tzu Chi’s medical mission to serve the community since June this year. Photo/Daphne Liu

Won’t you join forces with Tzu Chi USA? By working together, we can make the ripples of our love and care circle ever wider, reaching those in need in our communities and beyond.