Chicago optometrist travels the world to help others see

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CHICAGO — Dr. Silvia Pelini can still recall the first time she examined a child in need of glasses in Thailand.

"I mean I was really tearing up for sure, they were just so excited and running around and hugging their mom — he could see," she said.

An optometry student at the time, Pelini said visiting Thailand was an eye-opening experience that left her wanting to give back to others.

"It really makes you more aware of the world, makes you understand that you really have a lot here," she said.

Since the early '90s, Pelini has volunteered with an organization called VOSH, or Volunteer Optometrists Services for Humanity.  The organization relies on volunteers to provide global eye care for those who can’t afford it or simply don’t have access.

From Nepal to Honduras, Pelini has traveled to some remote and treacherous parts of the world, all in an effort to better the lives of others.

"When you see people waiting in line for hours, standing the whole day, they come in their best dressed clothes, just to come and see you, to get an eye exam," she said.

And the donated eyeglasses are distributed the same day.

"To them, it feels like a miracle," Pelini said.

When she is not traveling abroad, Pelini runs an optometry office on Chicago’s Mag Mile. Pelini also takes times out to volunteer with local eye clinics, and with the Room to Read organization.

"I feel really lucky and fortunate. I live a blessed life, so whatever I can do to give something back," she said.

Dr. Silvia Pelini — she is one of Chicago’s Very Own.

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