About the Friends of ASAPROSAR
In 1988 Friends determined that the population served by ASAPROSAR had no reasonable access to eye care, so a coordinated effort was mounted to establish an eye clinic. Two optometrists, one ophthalmologist and four volunteers were recruited, used eyeglasses were collected, and in 1989 the first eye clinic met a large demand – more than 800 patients were seen. That inaugural clinic took place during the El Salvadoran Civil War.
Eye care was the most desperate health care need for rural Salvadorans at that time. Campesinos — people who lived in the rural areas — could not afford eyeglasses, even if they knew what their prescription was. The proportion of people who were blind with opaque cataracts was incredibly high. The needs were great and the resources were virtually absent. The group committed to visit El Salvador yearly and we have been told that we were the only medical group in the world to serve the people in El Salvador during the war, without a political agenda.
Since that first clinic in 1989, an inventory of 10,000 used pairs of eyeglasses has been established. ASAPROSAR has a full-time optometrist and patients are seen year ’round. In 1994 eye surgery was initiated at a local hospital and, beginning in 2000, all surgery has been performed at the ASAPROSAR campus. Three operating rooms have now been set up there to date.
Today, Friends of ASAPROSAR (FoA) eye clinics are held annually under the direction and sponsorship of ASAPROSAR.
The group has now expanded considerably, usually consisting of about 60+ people each trip, and includes optometrists, ophthalmologists, OR nurses, anesthesiologists and lay volunteers. Those from the United States work closely with personnel from ASAPROSAR, who may or may not help in fitting eyeglasses and who coordinate all clinics.
Approximately 2,000 people are examined by our doctors on each trip and most of them are fitted with eyeglasses. Glaucoma testing is also carried out and many hundreds of sunglasses are distributed. Removal of cataracts, foreign body extractions and other surgical procedures had been done in the
past, in cooperation with the local free public hospital. However, in 1999, for the first time, the surgery was done on-site, in newly constructed and furnished operating room suites at the ASAPROSAR headquarters. Since then Friends of ASAPROSAR (FoA) has financed the construction of an additional annex to the surgical center and we continue to perform all our surgery on-site, including procedures as complex as corneal transplants.
In 2006, we expanded our work to include diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, diabetes and general cardiac conditions with major financial investment in stocking the pharmacy at ASAPROSAR in order to treat the very large number of poor people who would not, otherwise, be able to afford the necessary medicines to treat their debilitating diseases.