RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas -- A Brooke Army Medical Center optometry resident recently participated in a weeklong humanitarian mission to provide free medical, dental and optical care for residents in the Rio Grande Valley.

Army Maj. (Dr.) Brad Cunningham participated in the Remote Area Medical mission with a team of five fourth-year Rosenberg School of Optometry students and five second-year RSO students and another optometrist, Dr. Allison Chinn, July 25-29. RAM is an organization that provides medical care through mobile clinics in underserved, isolated, or impoverished communities.

Cunningham and his team set up shop in Juarez-Lincoln High School in Mission, Texas.

"The vision service was equipped to provide full scope optometry care for routine eye examinations including on the spot fabrication of prescription glasses," Cunningham said.

"Beginning Sunday night there was a line of cars and people waiting to get their vouchers to be seen the following day," he said. "These patients slept in their cars and on the concrete outside the fence line of the high schools in hopes to be provided free health care."

In total, the optometry teams provided 986 full eye exams and fabricated a total of 885 glasses to improve their patient's vision and quality of life. The teams also referred 58 patients to local specialists for further care due to newly diagnosed diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, and ocular cancer.

"Although humanitarian missions are a part of the BAMC Primary Care Optometry Residency program, they are a win-win experience," Cunningham said.

"It was an honor and a privilege to serve our fellow Texans and at the same time create real-world training for the RSO students. I was truly humbled by this experience and only hope that my peers and I get more opportunities like this one."