Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) was established in 1985 and since that time has worked in 26 countries, helping over 1 million people to see.
Isn't this something we all take so much for granted?
So often our concern is plain frame or designer; contact lenses or laser surgery? Millions of people in the developing world have no such options and are trying to go about their already challenging lives in a dark or out of focus world, yet so many of their problems can be rectified by the simple donation of old or unwanted spectacles.
From its headquarters in Crawley, Vision Aid Overseas receives thousands of pairs of donated glasses where they are sorted into those suitable for re-use and those for recycling. The charity does not take a 'these will do' approach to providing those in need with glasses; only those of suitable quality, strength and condition are cleaned, graded and packaged before being distributed overseas. A large number are re-glazed to ensure their suitability, and those damaged, broken or otherwise not suitable for direct use are recycled, and the funds raised from this support the charity's work in providing eye care and tests overseas.
Earlier this month, nearly 800 patients were screened by VAO in Ghana and supplied with suitable glasses. In addition to this, the project provided practical training to Optometry students at Kwame Nkrumah University, giving tutorials in glaucoma detection, refraction and practical dispensing and workshop skills. As a direct result, several of the students expressed an interest in community outreach work when they are qualified, meaning the work of VAO can continue through them.
Specsavers on Church Street, Croydon is wholeheartedly supporting this scheme and has a donation point in its store where you can leave your old, unwanted or unused glasses. There are literally thousands of pairs of specs lurking in drawers and dressing tables - surely the knowledge that these can truly make a difference to someone is enough to persuade you to dig them out and drop them off at the Croydon store?
Alongside our National Health Service, clean and plentiful water, groaning supermarket shelves etc, eye care is something else we generally take for granted. As a nation, we are extremely fortunate and it has to be said, extremely generous in responding to appeals on behalf of those less fortunate. With budgets maybe a little tighter these days, isn’t it nice to know that donating to this worthwhile cause won't actually touch our pockets at all, but can still make an enormous difference?
You can find more details about the Specsavers scheme on thebestof Croydon's Events page.