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A Gift of Clear Vision in Developing Countries

A nonprofit called Give the Gift of Sight holds clinics to provide free eye exams and used glasses. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Millions of people need eyeglasses to see clearly but lack the resources to get them. A group called Give the Gift of Sight provides free eye care and glasses in developing countries.

This nonprofit organization is based in the United States. The executive director, Greg Hare, says clear vision is a basic human right.

Give the Give of Sight has helped poor communities in Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. This year, the group is planning to visit thirteen countries. These include Thailand, Mexico, Cambodia, Romania and Guatemala. About twenty thousand people are expected at each clinic.

Eye-care professionals hold clinics for two weeks. Patients receive an eye exam and a used pair of glasses, if needed.

Give the Gift of Sight held its first clinic in nineteen ninety-one in Costa Rica. More than eight thousand people came. Since then, the group has helped two and a half million people in thirty-two developing nations.

Give the Gift of Sight uses volunteers. It works with Lions Clubs International and other groups in each country. These partner agencies help collect and restore used eyewear. They also identify where clinics will be held and prepare for them. The group depends on local Lions Clubs to identify people in need and to transport them to the clinics.

Italy's Luxottica Group, a leader in prescription eyewear, launched Give the Gift of Sight twenty years ago. The company collects used eyewear donated at its stores worldwide. Volunteers clean and sort the glasses. Greg Hare says Give the Gift of Sight hopes to collect more than one million pairs of eyeglasses this year.

And there is a plenty of need. The World Health Organization estimates that more than one hundred fifty million people live with three common eye disorders. Their poor vision is uncorrected but completely treatable. They are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism.

A nearsighted person has difficulty seeing objects clearly in the distance. A farsighted person has trouble seeing things up close. For a person with astigmatism, objects appear blurry at any distance.

And that’s the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. For a link to Give the Gift of Sight, and to learn about the work of other nonprofits, go to I’m Steve Ember.