In four days, Laurie White helped examine 400 people.

    Along with the help of her husband, Steve Stephens, and their two daughters, Emily and Elizabeth, White recently traveled to San Pedro Sula and Pinalejo in Honduras. The goal: Give as many examinations to as many of the traditionally impoverished residents as possible and treat whatever ocular diseases they could.


   In four days, Laurie White helped examine 400 people.
    Along with the help of her husband, Steve Stephens, and their two daughters, Emily and Elizabeth, White recently traveled to San Pedro Sula and Pinalejo in Honduras. The goal: Give as many examinations to as many of the traditionally impoverished residents as possible and treat whatever ocular diseases they could.
    The group returned last Monday.
    "We saw more diseases than usual," White said. "One family, three of them had albinism."
    White traveled to Honduras as part of  Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, or VOSH. The group was hosted by Fellow Man International Foundation out of Salina, a not-for-profit organization geared toward assisting the impoverished in Northwestern Santa Barbara, Honduras.
    She said many of the residents of the village of Pinalejo — which boasts around 1,000 people, many of whom work in the nearby coffee fields — had poor vision, including a woman who, with treatment, could read only the big "E" on the eyesight chart.
    While there, White distributed almost 350 pairs of glasses, some of which helped locals read well enough that they could continue studying with the local mission.
    White said her daughter also quizzed area schoolchildren on what they should do if their eyes were damaged. And much like any other child in the United States, they were ready to answer — until they were called upon. Then, brain lock.
    This wasn't White's first rodeo, either.
    For the past 10 years, she has been involved with VOSH. The organization looks to develop local, sustainable eye clinics in places such as Haiti and Guatemala, according to its Web site.
    And while White said she's seen eye disease before, she was struck by the number of unusual cases on her most recent trip.
    In particular, White said she was surprised by the prevelance of a disease called fundus flavimaculatus, which reduces vision in children.
    According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation's Web site, children with the disease first notice difficulty in reading, complaining of gray, black or hazy spots in the center of their vision.
    But with a recent donation from the late Dr. Lowell Goodwin, White said the doctors in Pinalejo received a set of used equipment they could use to help the residents with eye problems.
    "Without any equipment, they never were able to attract a doctor out to the area," White said. "Hopefully, with this, they will be able to actually get a full-time doctor."
    It wasn't all work, however.
    With the town of Pinalejo so near the coffee-producing regions, White said the group participated in a coffee-tasting contest.
    "We got to chose the best one," she said. "It was freshly picked, roasted and ground."

Reach Mark Vierthaler at (620) 408-9908 or e-mail him at mark.vierthaler@dodgeglobe.com.