BUSINESS: The Independent Eye: Optical on Main Street [Partner Post] Changing Life Through Lenses Program Helps Doctors Serve Those in Need By Staff Wednesday, November 13, 2019 7:00 AM It’s the month of Thanksgiving and in this giving season, independent optometrists are partnering with Essilor Vision Foundation (EVF) to serve those in need of better vision by providing free exams and eyeglasses through the Changing Life through Lenses program. There are 12 million children in the U.S. in need of vision care and this program helps doctors serve them through exams and glasses. The program allows eye doctors and non-profits to create an online account for no-cost prescription eyeglasses (lenses or frames or both); offers a free frame collection if doctors prefer to use EVF frames; and has resources on charitable engagement. The EVF frame kit has 30 styles representing 57 colors. Currently, nearly 2,000 doctors are participating. Dr. Mackenzie Weir, Amarillo Family Eyecare, said, “Ensuring children have access to vision care is extremely important to all of us at Amarillo Family Eyecare. We are grateful that Essilor Vision Foundation allows us to do this in our community through the Changing Life through Lenses program. Our entire staff looks forward to participating each year. Our employees are engaged and excited, our community impact is significant, and our mission comes to life.” The program is available year-round and provides doctors with no-cost lenses and frames when the doctor donates an exam to children and adults in need. “We want to empower doctors to be the advocate for vision in their communities,” said Andrea Haymore, director of partnerships, EVF. “For every paying customer, there is another customer who doesn’t have the means to pay. Optometrists can serve communities the way they want to serve, whether it is at a local shelter, a school or a mission trip, as long as the glasses and lenses are made and distributed in the United States.” “EVF refers to vision impairment as an invisible problem because children often do not even know they cannot see clearly. To them, blurry eyesight is normal,” said Becky Palm, EVF president and executive director. “Changing Life through Lenses is a valuable tool for ODs across the United States who are passionate and dedicated to creating a world with better vision for all children.” EVF has provided more than 1 million eyeglasses to people in need since 2007.Dr. Ryan Parker, director of professional development, Essilor of America, said, “When we take an oath to be an optometrist, we commit to providing care for those who don’t have access to care. This program empowers doctors who were already doing a great job to take things to the next level and provide free vision correction to those who need it most.” Parker added, “This is a great program and there are no material costs. We already know eye doctors are serving thousands of cities and towns now, and we want to partner to make that impact bigger, better and broader. Optometry schools are starting to utilize this program because they are doing charity work in their communities and it just makes financial sense. If you are paying for lenses and frames, then stop. This is a simple process, easy to use, and so helpful to everyone.” An added benefit to doctors, EVF found through research that customers support practices that give back to the community. Sixty-one percent of customers would choose an eye doctor who supports a charitable cause over one who does not. To learn more about Changing Life through Lenses and other EVF programs to help eye doctors get involved, please visit www.evfusa.org/ODprograms.