There are so many ways that our projects create a ripple effect of goodness. Another example can be found on our iCARE program and specifically the distribution of custom prescription glasses to well over a thousand patients each year.

During the week of November 12th, Steven Stern, iCARE Director, returned to the island of Barbados with a suitcase full of 360 prescription glasses. Dispensing these is a labor of love for Steven. In the past, iCARE mainly distributed used glasses, allowing for a close match to a patient’s prescription. Some glasses were also fabricated in clinic as well as stateside. Our new system means everyone gets their exact prescription. After their full eye exam, patients pick from a pallet of 30 frames. Their facial measurements are noted and the glasses are fabricated in the US. They are returned and fitted in two to three months.

The lead optician has a critical and time-consuming role of ordering these glasses when they return home. It is a big and important job that continues for a few weeks after clinic. We are so thankful for their above-and-beyond efforts.

“We are so grateful to EssilorLuxotica and Quest Vision Care Specialty Lab for making the majority of our patient’s glasses. We wouldn’t be able to do this without them. Additionally, I don’t know what we would do without the extra diligence of our lead optician and others who help place so many orders,” says Steven.

Once the glasses are ready to go and Steven’s return trip is booked, Great Shape! Inc. partners with the local government to obtain permission to carry them through customs. Before his arrival, he liaises with local contacts to alert patients that their glasses are ready and where and when to pick them up.

During dispensing, we ensure that the fit is right. We also teach first-time bifocal wearers how to use them. Steven explains, “In the beginning, it’s challenging for some of these patients to realize they have to look down to see close and up for distance. But the brain quickly learns to do this automatically and to ignore the bifocal line.”

Steven is happy to provide this type of outreach, “Our team is providing a world-class service by being able to supply these custom glasses. The beauty is in making the exact prescription for them. All of this translates to a lot of extra work, but it’s so worth it. It is heart-warming to see their smiling faces – the result of restored vision. I wish every team member could witness the fruition of their efforts. Everyone works so hard in clinic to ensure the reality of these magical, life-changing moments.”

From start to finish, so many volunteers, partners, and supporters play an integral part in restoring vision to thousands in the Caribbean.