Local optometrist participating in World Sight Day Challenge

  • Oct. 13, 2009 2:00 p.m.

Optometrist Kevin Hesterman of the Rimbey Eye Care Centre in encouraging the public to assist in alleviating blindness and/or vision impairment in the Third World with donations of cash or used eyeglasses.

Staff reporter

In this day and age, $5 one way or another might not amount to much more than a hill of beans for the average Albertan, but that certainly doesn’t mean a sum as tiny as that can’t have a profound effect on someone in the Third World – especially when it comes to eyesight.

In recognition of World Site Day, optometrists, their patients and the general public throughout the developed world are encouraged to donate cash and/or used eyeglasses during this month. The funds and glasses will assist in alleviating vision problems for an estimated 670 million men, women and children who are blind or suffer from vision impairment simply because they cannot access an eye examination and/or corrective glasses.

“World Site Day has been around for three years with the idea being that we can raise money for Third World optometry,” said Dr. Kevin Hesterman of the Rimbey Eye Care Centre. “The big thing is people wonder where their donated eyeglasses go, and the idea behind this program is it not only gives the Third World donated eyeglasses, but it also trains people there how to become optometrists as well as providing eye health centres.

Distributed under the auspices of the organization Optometry Giving Sight, the program expects to distribute several million dollars to help screen and provide basic eye care to more than 1.7 million people, train 1,500 mid-level eye care personnel and construct 101 vision centres and optical workshops in Sri Lanka, South Africa, East Timor, Latin America, indigenous Australia, New Guinea and other parts of the world.

“For as little as $5, the program can provide a full eye exam and a pair of donated glasses to someone in the Third World, so it can make a big difference,” Hesterman said. “With increased awareness across Canada and throughout the world, we’re seeing an increase to the point where this year we’re expecting to see $3 million worth of donations.”

There’s also a Rimbey connection to the program that could expedite the shipment of used eyeglasses to the less fortunate, particularly in Ghana where Dr. Pam Syrota, also of the Rimbey Eye Care Centre, is involved in a program to distribute glasses.

“I am proud to join thousands of optometrists around the world in making a difference. The patients I see every day have a number of sophisticated vision care services and vision correction options available to them,” Hesterman said. “Yet there are millions of people around the world who don’t even have access to the basics – an eye exam and eyeglasses. There are millions of children who can’t see at school and adults who can’t work to provide for their families. We are proud to be able to support Optometry Giving Sight in its efforts to bring sight to people in countries with little or no access to quality vision care.”

Anyone who would like to offer assistance is invited to visit the centre where they can drop off used eyeglasses or make cash donations.

If requested, receipts will be issued for donations exceeding $20.

The Rimbey Eye Care Centre is located at 5010 50th Ave.

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