RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Before Vittorio Mena became an eye doctor at Family Care Vision Center in Rutherford, he spent a week in Port Au Prince, Haiti putting his optometry skills to the test.
He says he traveled to Haiti after graduating from the Pennsylvania School of Optometry in August, 2014 partly to expose himself to more challenging ocular issues.
"There are things over there that you don't get to see everyday here," Mena, 29, told Daily Voice. "There are so many different types of ocular issues and a lot more people in dire need."
"They all work seven days a week morning till night non-stop to help their families. Just giving them a pair of glasses will help so much."
Mena and another doctor accompanied 18 optometry students to Haiti as part of a program offered through the Student Optometric Service to Humanity Organization (SOSH).
While abroad, Mena's his team treated approximately 1,400 patients, the doctor said.
"A lot of the people we saw can now do things they struggled with before like knit and read," he said. "It was a very humbling experience."
Mena has plans to return to Haiti in the future to provide more medical care and would like to take humanitarian trips to other impoverished nations to provide care.
"If it is in your ability to help you should help," Mena said. "Something small like a pair of glasses or a little bit of medicine can make a huge difference."
"It is crucial for any doctor no matter what field of medicine to help these impoverished societies."