EyeCare ProfessionalsBy MICHAEL S. MOSS,
EyeCare Professionals, a leading Mississippi ophthalmology practice specializing in Laser Cataract surgery and Blade-free LASIK refractive surgery, recently donated its 1,000th pair of pre-worn glasses to New Eyes for the Needy.
Founded in 1932 and headquartered in Short Hills, New Jersey, New Eyes for the Needy is a non-profit organization that accepts and recycles donated glasses for international distribution to underprivileged adults and children with impaired vision.
EyeCare Professionals joined efforts with the organization in the spring of 2017 by promoting the initiative and becoming a permanent donation site. To reward donors for their generosity, EyeCare Professionals offers a 20% discount off the purchase of new frames or sunglasses from their on-site optical shop, The EyeBar. The practice sends a shipment of pre-worn glasses to New Eyes for the Needy once a quarter.
“We’re pleased to offer this discount to any of our patients willing to donate to this worthy cause,” said Kirk R. Jeffreys, M.D., founding ophthalmologist of EyeCare Professionals. “Most of our patients have multiple pairs of glasses they no longer use. Donating a pair may seem like a small gesture, but it can have an enormous impact on the lives of those less fortunate.”
Dr. Jeffreys said most donations are from patients who have recently had Laser Cataract surgery or Blade-free LASIK refractive surgery and no longer depend on glasses or contact lens for vision correction. They are happy to pass along their glasses to someone in need.
“This program fits perfectly with our mission to improve each patient’s vision and enhance their quality of life. Ten percent of the world’s population, including thirteen million children, suffer from impaired vision because they cannot get the vision correction they need.”
In February of 2018, EyeCare Professionals launched a community-wide donation initiative, in which students from local high schools raised awareness for the cause at their schools and through social media outlets - and physically collected glasses on multiple days at participating Newk’s locations across metro Jackson.
Shannon Plunkett, Community Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for EyeCare Professionals, believes this ‘1,000th Pair’ donation milestone is just the beginning. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of our patients,” she said.
“We have many who will bring a pair of glasses with them to every check-up, and in some cases we’ve had patients bring entire grocery sacks full. I’m also surprised at the number of donors that refuse the discount. I think in their minds just knowing the positive impact their simple act of kindness will have on someone’s life is reward enough.”
New Eyes for the Needy’s Overseas Program receives donations of pre-worn glasses from all across the country. Specially trained volunteers then test and sort the glasses for global distribution through international charitable organizations and smaller medical missions.
To date, New Eyes has shipped glasses to more than 87 countries around the world. In 2018-2019, 255,500 pairs of glasses were recycled and distributed.
Anyone wishing to donate a pair of pre-worn glasses may stop by EyeCare Professionals at 1501 Lakeland Drive in Jackson or drop them off at the Flowood Chamber of Commerce at 115 Laurel Park Cove in Flowood.