Photo Credit: © Claudia Paul 
© Artists for World Peace  © AFWP NATIVE EYES


AFWP NATIVE EYES Mission Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota  June 2-7, 2019

Rosebud Indian Reservation, Mission, South Dakota

Our nonprofit, Sights on Health, Inc. is proud to have the opportunity to work with the nonprofit Artists for World Peace for the second year. The AFWP NATIVE EYES mission was established in 2017 by Wendy Black-Nasta, Founder & Executive Director of AFWP and Raymond Dennis, a licensed optician and Professor & Program Coordinator of the Ophthalmic Design and Dispensing Program at Middlesex Community College, Middletown Connecticut. They have done an exceptional job again this year in providing comprehensive eye exams and eye glasses for approximately 1,000 people living on the 1.2 million acre Rosebud Indian Reservation. Their planning starts 12 months before the mission, working with members of the tribal community on Rosebud and Sinte Gleska University to pre-register patients.  The focus has been on the young and the elders in the community by gathering children from the Head Start programs and instituting a mobile van to service the residents of a nursing home. The reservation has one Indian Health Service optometrist for 25,000 tribal members so the wait for an eye exam can be years.  Many of the patients have high astigmatism which renders their near and far vision extremely blurry.  Wearing glasses will correct this and if the young children are prescribed glasses, amblyopia can be prevented.  AFWP obtained a grant from the Essilor Foundation (for the second year in a row) to supply custom made eyeglasses for 763 people.  Sights on Health worked with Wendy and Ray for the 6 months leading up to the mission.  Below is a brief summary of Sights on Health’s contribution to the AFWP NATIVE EYES mission. It was a pleasure and an honor working with AFWP with the common goal of providing much needed comprehensive eye examinations.

Photo Credit: © JW Perkins
© Artists for World Peace  © AFWP NATIVE EYES

Sights on Health team: Cathy Roberts, Debra Messina, M.D., Michele Levi, M.D., Michael Prywes, Arnold Prywes, M.D., Bill Epstein, M.D

Summary of Sights On Health’s contribution to the mission:

  • Funded $1,830.00 for two optometry students from Midwestern School of Optometry, Chicago, Illinois. They were an essential part of eye team who refracted ~ 878 patients for eyeglasses.
  • Secured $55,107.44 In-Kind donation of diagnostic and therapeutic eye medications from Surgical Eye Expeditions International  (Allergan: $52,998.44, Akorn: $2,109 )
  • Recruited 5 ophthalmologists, William Epstein, M.D. from Oregon, Alex Zaffaroni, M.D. from California, Arnold Prywes, M.D., glaucoma specialist, Michele Levi, M.D. pediatric ophthalmologist and Debra Messina, M.D., an administrative assistant, Cathy Roberts, & an ophthalmic technician, Michael Prywes, all from N.Y.
  • Purchased ~ 1,000 non-prescription adult & children sunglasses for eye clinic patients
  • Revised eye exam form and reviewed 2018 charts to ensure necessary follow up exams for 2019 clinic.
  • Obtained donation of eye equipment for Artists for World Peace- one slit lamp, one phoropter
  • Established referral agreement with ophthalmologist, John Berdahl, M.D. of Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls for follow up ophthalmic care and/or surgery. Dr. Berdahl will accept insurance payment or no payment for these patients. (Thanks to Dr. Epstein for this referral option)

Medical and Behavioral Care on the Reservation:

  • After last years’ experience working on Rosebud with the NATIVE EYES team, it became apparent the significant need for general medical care and behavioral health services. Nine months of conference calls between the physicians of Sights on Health, Matthew Tobey, M.D., MPH, Associate Program Director of the Rural Health Leadership Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital, Nicole Collins, MPH, Program coordinator of Rural Health Leadership Fellowship on Rosebud Reservation, and Damon Leader Charge from Tribal Health.
  • Dr. George Coritsidis, Dr. Joseph Ng & his wife Frances, arrived June 5th from N.Y. to attend several exploratory meetings organized with the significant help of Wendy Black- Nasta to ensure there was participation of the tribal leaders from the Health board and Nicole Collins to ensure participation of the IHS and the Drug treatment director. The Sights on Health team met with Lionel Bordeaux, President of Sinte Gleska University, Wendy Black- Nasta, leaders from the Tribal Health Board, the Director of Methamphetamine Drug Treatment program and members of the Indian Health Service June 6 and 7th.  More information to follow on the developments as they unfold!