We See Brings Access to Eye Health in Soweto

By Matthew Alpert, OD April 02, 2014

In 2012, I was part of a team that traveled to Soweto, South Africa—hometown of Nelson Mandela—to provide free eye exams and eyewear to nearly 200 staff members and students from a local school at the Nike Football Training Centre.

Just 230 optometrists in the public health sector of South Africa serve a population of 41 million. An estimated 6 out of 10 children in South Africa who have low vision need vision correction, yet only 20% of those children have the glasses they need.

This really hit home for me during an eye exam for a young girl who had vision so poor, anything past an arm’s length was blurred. She didn’t realize that seeing clearly was possible. Now that she has corrective glasses and can see the blackboard in school, she has a much better chance of achieving her dreams of being a doctor.

Next week, as part of the We See Child Eye Health Project, I’m returning to Soweto to celebrate the opening of a new eye health clinic.

VSP Global companies, including Marchon Eyewear, are partnering with the Brien Holden Vision Institute and Optometry Giving Sight to open an eye health clinic at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto. Over the next three years, our goal is to provide 30,000 children with free eye care and eyewear, donated by Nike Vision, reducing uncorrected visual impairment among Soweto schoolchildren by 90%.

You can follow the We See Child Eye Health Project on the VSP Blog. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I am by the power of eye health and clear vision to offer new opportunities for the children of Soweto to succeed in school, sports, and life.

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