Eyecare Medical Group and Maine Eye Center were awarded the 2010 Hanley Centers Honors for Medical and Humanitarian Service for their work with Project Guatemala. Project Guatemala has provided eye care to the Mayan Indians, the indigenous people of the mountainous Quiche province in Northern Guatemala, for the past 15 years. Maine Eye Center has been participating in Project Guatemala since 1998; Eyecare Medical Group joined them in 2003.
Once a year, these two practices come together to send a team that includes eye surgeons, optometrists, technicians and translators to Guatemala. During this trip, the team sees over one thousand patients. About 50-60 cataract surgeries are performed each year, many of them restoring sight for patients who had been blind for years. In the clinic, patients are screened for eye diseases and provided medications and eyeglasses when necessary. Work takes place throughout the year to collect supplies, which are often donated by ophthalmic companies, and prepare them for transport to Guatemala. Project Guatemala was started in the mid 1990s by ophthalmologist Dr. John Detwiler and his technician, Bonnie Togliotti in New Hampshire. After Dr. Detwiler died suddenly, Bonnie restarted the project in Maine with the support of Drs. Frank Read and Peter Hedstrom of Maine Eye Center in 1998. Drs. Bruce Cassidy and Robert Daly have provided much of the on-going participation from the Eyecare Medical Group since 2003.