Posted Online: June 14, 2013, 2:20 am

Optometrist helps Indonesians see clearer opportunities

Comment on this story

By Claudia Loucks,

Photo: Claudia Loucks | correspondent
Geneseo optometrist Dr. William Bordwell took a mission trip to Indonesia earlier this year, as part of Sight Ministries organization.
GENESEO -- Good eyesight can help less fortunate people in the world see a life of opportunity instead of the blur of poverty.

Geneseo optometrist Dr. William Bordwell took a trip to Indonesia earlier this year as amember of a Sight Ministries mission team that provided eye care to needy Indonesians.

He chose to join Sight Ministries because of its Christian beliefs, he said. "And because they use new, inexpensive eyeglasses instead of used eyeglasses," as some other charities offer.

Sight Ministries is a Christian-based, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization which "exists to lift people out of poverty by empowering them through our human resources development programs and by creating peace and unity among different religious groups and social organizations," Dr. Bordwell said.

"By enabling someone to see clearly for the first time, their chances of living a less isolated and more fulfilling life are vastly increased," he said. "Children who can see the writing on a schoolboard now have the opportunity to get a proper education. Adults can find jobs that allow them to provide not only for themselves, but also their families."

The trip was sponsoredby Yayasan Pondok Kasih -- House of Love Foundation -- headquartered in Surabaya, Indonesia, but mission team memberswere responsible for their own trip expenses, he said.

Team members made daily trips from Surabaya to outlying areas where Dr. Bordwell and an optometrist from Indonesia examined patients. Other team members fabricated the glasses.

Lenses and frames were transported from the U.S. to Indonesia.

"We had only single-vision glasses, so, in some cases, we provided two pair of glasses for a patient, one for near and another for them to see far away," Dr. Bordwell said.

"It would have been too problematic for us to try and give them bifocals," he said. "We can more closely give the patient the prescription they need by giving them new glasses, rather than a recycled or used pair."

Dr. Bordwell learned the importance of correct vision at an early age. He began wearing glasses in first grade when it was determined he was nearsighted.

Learning about eye problems in his family led him to decide on an optometry career, he said.

In college, Dr. Bordwell also got involved in a program called Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity, or VOSH, for short. He took part in two VOSH trips to give eye exams and distribute glasses.

"Sight is the most treasured of our five senses," he said.

Uncorrected vision is one of the world's leading causes of preventable blindness, he said. It also is the most treatable," he said, adding how "670 million people are needlessly blind or vision impaired simply because they lack access to the glasses or eye care they need."

"Some of these people are functionally blind because they do not have glasses," Dr. Bordwell said. "Optometrists, their patients, staff and students around the world are joining forces to raise funds to help provide sustainable vision care for those in need."

Dr. Bordwell, a member at First United Methodist Church in Geneseo, went on a mission trip to Liberia, as encouraged by his pastor, the Rev. Chris Ritter.

Then Dr. Bordwell decided he should look for a trip where he could use his optometry expertise, and chose Sight Ministries' mission trip to Indonesia.

Dr. William Bordwell bio box
Age: 58.
Family: Wife, Donna Bordwell; sons, Brian Bordwell, a senior, and Douglas Bordwell, a freshman, both at Geneseo High School.
Hometown: Washington, Iowa.
Education: Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; attended University of Iowa and earned a Doctor of Optometry Degree from Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago.
Experience: In practice for more than 27 years; 25-plus years in Geneseo.
Favorite Scripture: John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me."
Favorite Biblical Character I'd like to meet: "Queen Esther and the Apostle Paul."
Hobbies and activities: "Walking, biking, movies, reading various books and magazine articles."
Peak experience: "Finishing a marathon (a long time ago) and Indonesian mission trip."
Pit experience: "Breaking my left leg playing softball, although that is how I met Dr. Don Ford, my primary doctor for over 20 years."
One thing I feel strongly about: "Self reliance."
I wish I knew how to: "Fix things, I definitely am not a handyman."