America’s Best Affiliated Doctor Travels to Liberia and Helps 400 People
In October 2016, Willnella Peters, O.D., an affiliated Optometrist at our America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses store in Union City, Georgia, traveled to Monrovia, Liberia for a mission trip. She traveled with the nonprofit organization, Helping Eyes Against the Loss of Sight (HEALS).
Over the course of two weeks, Dr. Peters saw 400 patients, and thanks to our partnership with Restoring Vision, National Vision covered the cost of 300 sunglasses. Dr. Peters purchased and distributed another 100 sunglasses to children in need.
About The Mission Trip
Dr. Peters first traveled to Liberia with HEALS in October 2013. When asked what inspired her to go to Liberia, Dr. Peters says:
“I participated in mission trips as an optometry student. On one of the mission trips I decided I wanted to do more. I chose Liberia because that is where I am from. Liberia was in a civil war and people had neglected their eyes. Although conditions in Liberia have been improving, the need is still great and I wanted to help make things better. Eventually, I want to travel to other African countries.”
During the October 2013 mission trip, Dr. Peters and the other volunteers completed comprehensive-dilated eye exams on 300 patients. The majority of patients were hyperopic – a vision condition in which distant objects can be seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus.
They also noticed that many patients had pingueculas (non-cancerous bumps on the eyeball), pterygiums (tissue growth over the white part of the eye), cataracts (a clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision) and basal cell carcinomas (a cancer that is the result of intense exposure to the sun). The cataracts progressed earlier and at a faster rate than what is considered normal because Liberia is so close to the equator.
Dr. Peters decided to return to Liberia in October 2016. She knew that on this trip she wanted to educate the masses on why wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes is extremely important. The Optometrist began a sunglasses campaign and created educational materials on the importance of wearing sunglasses. She hopes that these materials will show people how to prevent some diseases and slow down the progression of cataracts.
More About Dr. Peters
A 2009 graduate of Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, Dr. Peters is originally from Liberia and has been an affiliated O.D. with National Vision since July 2009.
Dr. Peters is also the Executive Director and Founder of HEALS – a non-profit organization geared towards combating blindness in Liberia and eventually Africa as a whole. She started HEALS in 2011 as a means to promote healthy eyes and provide care to under-served populations.
Dr. Peters participated in several mission trips to Jamaica, conducted community outreach in Florida, and is dedicated to serving. She is already planning her next mission trip which will happen sometime in 2017.