Prescription eyeglasses are something many of us take for granted, especially if we live in a country with publicly-funded health care. But in many countries around the world, a lack of trained personnel, distance and even the cost of eyeglasses makes it impossible for many people to get an eye exam and prescription eyeglasses.
Low vision due to refractive error is the most common form of visual impairment. That’s why the need for eyeglasses is so important!
We used to collect used eyeglasses. The thinking was simple: many people had old pairs of eyeglasses and wanted to donate them; while for those with low vision, something was surely better than nothing. We shipped nearly two million pairs of eyeglasses to developing countries.
But in 2003, we stopped accepting used eyeglasses. Why?
- It’s very time-consuming and difficult to match a person’s prescription to an existing pair of eyeglasses. Anything else requires a person to accept eyeglasses that don’t help them.
- A person’s vision might actually be harmed if they are wearing eyeglasses that are not a perfect match for their prescription.
- It’s less expensive for us to buy locally-made eyeglasses for distribution in the countries where we work than to collect, sort and ship used eyeglasses overseas.
- India no longer allows used eyeglasses into the country, as they interfere with their own eyeglasses industry.
Providing eyeglasses to those in need is still vital to our approach. Here’s how we do it: every partner hospital we work with ensures that each patient who needs glasses gets comfortable, modern, NEW prescription glasses.
Those who can’t afford the cost (the equivalent of $2 to $4 in most countries we work in) have those costs subsidized by local customers who can afford to pay for more expensive frames.
Pairs of prescription eyeglasses dispensed in 2015
Do you want to help children, women and men in need of eyeglasses? A generous donation of $20 provides new, custom-fitted prescription eyeglasses for up to three people!