Former Boxer, 83-yr old, Angel Estrada Receives Lenses and Vision Information from the Lighthouse's East Harlem: Early Action Saves Sight Program
At eighty-three years young, Angel Estrada recounts his professional boxing days in Puerto Rico as one of the highlights of his life. But he never thought those glorious days could lead to vision loss. While there is no medical evidence that his boxing days led to sight problems, Mr. Estrada suspects the many blows to his face caused some damage.
Until he came to get treatment from the specialists at Lighthouse International, Mr. Estrada had not seen clearly for nearly 20 years.
Mr. Estrada came to the United States in 1952, looking for a better life after his career in boxing was over. He took a job as a truck driver delivering products across the country. During one of his many trips, Mr. Estrada experienced a devastating accident on Route 684 - dubbed “Truck Cemetery” for it’s dangerous curves. He hit a curve, totaled his truck and had some of the shattered glass go in his eye, damaging his cornea. Soon after the accident, his vision deteriorated further. But he never gave up.
Years later, he went to an ophthalmologist in New York for an exam and requested glasses. "The doctor told me not to spend money on glasses because my vision wasn't going to get any better nor was it going to get any worse. I didn't understand why, but I just accepted what he said." After attending a presentation at the Corsi Senior Citizen Center in East Harlem, he decided to see on of the specialists at Lighthouse International. They prescribed glasses to help him see correctly. "While the lenses will not give him 20/20 vision, he will at least be at 20/40. The important thing is that Mr. Estrada's eye health is now being safely monitored," says Dr. Shelly Agarwal, the optometrist at the Lighthouse now treating Estrada.
His new lenses were made possible through the East Harlem: Early Action Saves Sight program at Lighthouse International. Funded by several grants, the program is dedicated to providing vision health care and education to the senior residents living in Harlem and East Harlem.
"Many people do not realize the importance of caring for your eyes. Many serious eye diseases can be detected and treated by simply getting a comprehensive eye exam," says Andrea Zaldivar, Director of Geriatrics and Diabetes. "Studies have shown the risks for diabetes, glaucoma and cataracts are higher among the African American and Latino communities -- a huge reason why we thought this community would benefit greatly from this program."
With his new lenses, Angel is now able to drive again. "I am so grateful for this program. I think every neighborhood should have a program like this. Now, I tell all my friends at the senior center to get their eyes checked," says Mr. Estrada.
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