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World Sight Day sees New Zealanders struggling to afford glasses

Many New Zealanders are unable to afford a basic tool to see clearly - glasses
Salvation Army-OneSight clinic team
Posted October 10, 2019

On World Sight Day (Thursday, October 10) many New Zealanders are unable to afford a basic tool to see clearly – glasses.

More than 70 percent of people seen at the recent Salvation Army-OneSight clinics failed vision tests.

Many of these were able to have their vision corrected immediately at the free clinics, with glasses issued on the spot. Others had more complex sight issues and had prescription glasses made offsite. All glasses were provided for free by OneSight, an independent, non-profit organisation committed to eradicating the global vision care crisis in our lifetime.

OneSight Programme Manager for Australia/New Zealand Jenny Harnett says it was an honour to bring the clinics to five Salvation Army centres in late September – New Lynn, Tauranga, Whakatane, Rotorua and Manukau. Earlier in the year, clinics were run over a week in April in Christchurch and Wellington.

“We believe that glasses unlock potential, providing opportunities for students to learn, for people to work and earn a living, to drive, to read, to support their families. This is so in line with the programmes and services provided by The Salvation Army, and we are so grateful for their support and continued partnership in delivering this service to those in need throughout New Zealand.”

Among those benefiting from the clinics was a Rotorua mother who visited the clinic with two of her children, worried about their vision. She was also registered for an eye test; while her priority was ensuring that her children got the glasses they needed, it quickly became apparent that the person most in need of a pair of specs was, in fact, her. When her distance vision was tested, she couldn’t see the chart on the wall. Prescribed glasses when she was 12, she had been without vision support after losing them 16 years ago, when her family couldn’t afford to replace them. She would borrow her mum’s reading glasses, but this wouldn’t have helped her at all, considering her prescription. She relied on her husband and kids to tell her what she was seeing. Her glasses will now give her back some independence and allow her to truly focus on her children, who were her priority all along.

In the most recent clinics 624 people were seen over five days with 445 needing glasses. One hundred and fifty pairs of Ready-to-Clip glasses were made at the clinic providing immediate vision correction, while 390 more complex prescriptions were ordered for manufacture at OneSight’s lab.

Caroline Jewkes, Salvation Army’s Divisional Director for Community Ministries Midland attended three of the clinics and said it was amazing to see the joy on people’s faces when they were able to see clearly again and to hear the stories of transformation that will come from clear eyesight.

“The Salvation Army works every day to help people transform lives. We are so grateful to the OneSight team for donating their time and glasses at these clinics and an associated voucher programme to provide this incredible gift to hundreds of people who are struggling in our communities.”