Helping individuals in developing countries improve their eyesight is more than just a vision for three local optometrists.
To mark Eye Health Month this October, Don Porter, Kim Elcheshen and Gillian Robinson from 20/20 Eye Care (2-835 Dakota St.) are taking part in the World Sight Day Challenge.
As part of the Optometry Giving Sight initiative, community members and patients are invited to join the challenge and donate to help underserved communities that don’t have access to eye exams or glasses.
To observe World Sight Day, celebrated on Oct. 10 and 11, the St. Vital-based optometrists will be holding a raffle. Donations of $2 or more will be entered to win a prize pack.
The practice is also holding a donor drive, during which individuals who bring in an old pair of glasses get a voucher for 10% off a new pair. Porter will take the old glasses to Mexico in November as part of a team delivering eye care to locals.
"We’ll be taking 15,000 to 20,000 pairs of glasses and setting up a clinic and doing eye exams for people that don’t have any other means of eye care," said Porter, who is a partner in the practice with Elcheshen.
The St. Norbert resident — who has been on previous missions to Peru and Mexico and been part of clinics set up in bars and warehouses — said new volunteers are always welcome.
"The trip takes about two weeks and you don’t need experience. You’re put in a room when you get there and you learn real quick," he said.
"It’s about giving back to people who don’t have the same advantages as we do and they certainly do appreciate it."
Elcheshen, who lives in Royalwood, said the team is focused on helping provide eye care on multiple levels.
"We want to provide eye care locally, but also around the world. One pair of eyeglasses can provide a kid with so many more opportunities than before," she said, noting that Optometry Giving Sight is an organization that helps provide optometry training. "The reaction when they first put on a pair of glasses is amazing."
Robinson, an associate optometrist at the practice who also volunteers at a clinic at Siloam Mission, said it’s easy to take eye care for granted.
"Some countries don’t have access to eye care and some people have pretty profound vision loss. So to suddenly see can be life-changing," said Robinson, who lives in River Heights.
For more details, or to donate, visit 20-20eyecare.ca or call 204-953-2020.