Old spectacles find new eyes

Service for sightOld spectacles Collected by Lions Club from schools, temples and from places with good footfalls.Sudhakara JainSudhakara Jain  

I wager my expensive contacts that a pair of old looking glasses is lying forgotten in a nook of your house. It may be outdated and outright useless in your eyes. But consider the possibility that it will bring a glint of gratitude to a pair of eyes elsewhere. In other words, consider donating it. Not-for profit groups, eye hospitals and optic shops in Bengaluru collect such spectacles and despatch them to organisations that specialise in recycling them.

The final destination of these spectacles: the thankful hands of the underprivileged. Such a collection drive is part of Lions Club International’s vision of service. Last year, Lions Club District 317F, which consists of 58 clubs, collected nearly 6,800 old spectacles. “We have an initiative ‘Sight Conservation’, as part of which we kept drop boxes at 10 schools. Old spectacles are expected to go into these boxes. Children are great campaigners and we collected a huge number of spectacles with their help,” says HK Giridhar, district governor.

Boxes are also placed at shopping malls, temples and other places that register good footfall. The lenses from the frames of donated spectacles are gouged out and after minor repairs, refitted and made ready for reuse. These spectacles are categorised on the basis of power and packed in respective boxes and kept aside for camps. The Red Cross Optical Unit that functions on the premises of Minto Eye Hospital gets 15-20 used spectacles a month. These are calibrated and given to people who cannot afford a new pair of eye wear, after ensuring power match.

The Jayanagar branch of S.R.Gopal Rao Opticians receives, on an average, five spectacles a month. John Jacob Eye Wear had a collection drive at its outlets last year based on a request by an NGO. Lawrence & Mayo and GKB Opticals are among the other brands organising such drives and ensure old spectacles find new eyes. Not all the donated spectacles complete the journey of philanthropy. “Of the 6,800 spectacles collected, we could re-use only 4000. Some of them break when we clean them and cannot be repaired,” says B.N. Ravi Naidu, who led the drive for Lions Club District 317F.

“We spend around Rs. 75 to refurbish every pair of glasses. As we also run the Bangalore West Lions Eye Hospital, the recycled spectacles are put to use after a cataract surgery,” says Giridhar.

He hopes that the concept of donating old spectacles catches on in India, because there is a need for them. In the West, this need is widely recognised and adequately met.

Profiling initiatives that work to enrich life in the city

Boxes are placed at shopping malls, temples and places that register good footfall