Eyecare for Everyone: Providing Accessible Eyecare in Downtown Vancouver

Eyecare for Everyone: Providing Accessible Eyecare in Downtown Vancouver

On March 10, our Vancouver team helped provide free eye exams to our Downtown Eastside neighbours at Coastal Mental Health. Working alongside The Eyeglasses Project for the second time this year, we provided over 100 free pairs of prescription glasses to members of our community lacking access to eyecare – something we feel fortunate to be able to do.

We asked our Kitsilano Optician, Sarah, and West Coast Operations Manager, Taylor, to share their experiences providing eyecare to those in our community who need it most.

1. Set the scene – what was the clinic like?

Patients were eager to start the eye exam process and get their new specs, so we quickly set-up and started testing. We tried to see as many patients as possible throughout the day, which meant working as a team with our fellow Eyeglasses Project volunteers (and cutting back on coffee to mitigate bathroom breaks!). There’s still a huge need for eyecare across downtown Vancouver, but we’re so happy to have helped even a small portion of those in need of prescription eyeglasses who wouldn’t be able to receive them otherwise.

2. Tell us about the type of person you helped today. Are you able to give us a sense of the difficulties they face seeking eyecare?

We saw a number of patients throughout the day. I spoke with a gentlemen who had lost his job after the market crash and had a hard time getting back on his feet after suffering a major heart attack. He was extremely grateful to have access to our clinic and receive a much-needed pair of glasses.

Another patient suffered from a variety of medical conditions, causing her to be unable to work for years. She had a relatively strong prescription and had been using glasses with one lens missing for over a year. She was really thankful for the opportunity to receive a new pair of glasses and said her new eyewear will help improve her everyday life. It felt great to be able to give these patients the eyecare they were long overdue for.


3. What does providing eyecare to these patients mean for them?

Correctly fitting eyeglasses can improve patients’ overall safety, give them the confidence to seek employment, and set them on a path to improve their altogether health and wellbeing. We feel this project let us help members of our community realise and reach their full potential, which is an awesome thing to be a part of.

4. How do you plan to continue giving back to the community moving forward?

We’re always on the lookout for ways to help our local communities! We can’t wait to get back out there and provide more eye exams and glasses to those who need them, whether in Vancouver or another one of the cities OQ calls home.

Check out The Eyeglasses Project here.
Words by Sarah Barton and Taylor Campbell, photos via The Eyeglasses Project