Up to one thousand people from St. Paul’s, most of whom are students attending schools from the area, will benefit from an eye-care initiative that starts today at the St. Paul’s Community Centre in Liberta.
The event forms part of the annual Health Month organised by St. Paul’s MP, E. P. Chet Greene.
This year, seventeen eye-care specialists are visiting to conduct the clinic.
The St. Paul’s community group, Synergy, is partnering with the OneSight, a foundation under the umbrella of the eye-wear giant EssilorLuxottica and the HALO Foundation whose patrons are Governor General Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Williams.
The foundation’s Global Head of Knowledge: Advocacy and Partnerships, Kristan Gross, said an estimated six hundred students from the Cobbs Cross, Liberta, New Bethel and other neighbouring schools will receive free eye exams over the next two days.
On Saturday, the clinic concludes with hundreds of adults expected to attend.
Gross explained that following the examinations, those requiring glasses will be able to select frames which will be sent to the United States for processing. When the glasses have been completed, they will be returned to Antigua and handed over to the patients, free of cost.
“I want to return to Antigua sometime soon with the glasses, hand them out and see the smiles on the faces of the recipients,” Gross said.
She explained that OneSight has set a goal of eliminating poor vision in one generation and has pledged to do whatever is necessary to eliminate uncorrected refractive vision by 2050.
“Refractive errors are those errors in your vision that are correctable with a pair of glasses. One in three of these cases go untreated today which amounts to 2.7 billion people worldwide who don’t see clearly as they really should.
“These are for reasons of lack of awareness that a solution is available, or that they don’t see the eye doctor for economic or social reasons, or it could be the affordability of the eyeglasses themselves,” she remarked.
Her colleague, Judith Marcano Williams, head of Advocacy and Partnerships for the Americas, said the OneSight team travels the world to stage clinics which are similar to the one that opens in St Paul’s today.
The team includes optometrists, opticians and other technicians.