Mona Sandhu said after always driving through Whalley and seeing people on the street, she wanted to help.
That’s where Clayton Heights Optometry came in.
Sandhu, an optometrist at Clayton Heights Optometry, recruited her two optometric assistants Samantha Kemp and Natalia Jette to start vision clinics for those who couldn’t afford the services.
“What I noticed was very few, if any of them, had glasses on. I always wondered in my head, ‘Are they having access to eye care? Are they getting their eyes examined?’” she said. “Because it is so important… even for their mental health. Just to be able to see clearly, as well as catch eye disorders that could prevent any future problems with their eyes.”
Sandhu said she called around to different places to see if there was a need for vision clinic or if anyone was interested in the three women coming in and doing eye exams.
Finally, Sandhu said, she got a hold of Marty Jones with NightShift Street Ministries and he was “totally on board.”
Jones said when Sandhu contacted him, he thought it would be for a one-off day of exams.
“Not knowing what to expect, I thought they just wanted to come and do just exams and that would be it — which would have been wonderful because one of the things she’s trying to do is just trying to identify early detection of eye disease.”
Jones said Sandhu “made it very clear” that she wanted to give eye exams and glasses.
“I think we had probable 45 or 50 people show up that day. We were just overwhelmed. We didn’t know what to expect,” Jones said. “Then I thought, this was wonderful, a one-off, a great way for her to give back to her community.”
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Another inspiring day of Project Eyecare providing eyecare to the community in need. Always amazed at the vision some are struggling to see with. Most have no glasses or had them but they broke or were lost years ago. How long would you be able to last without your glasses?
Since NightShift and Clayton Heights Optometry’s first vision clinic, the they have partnered together for an additional five clinics with the most recent one at the end of October. Sandhu said the aim is for the next clinic to be in January.
“We’d ideally like to see more (people) and be able to do more, but we’re limited in resources. I can’t ask them (Kemp and Jette) to do any more than they do. They’re taking time away from their families. Then they end up having to work six days a week.”
Sandhu said she would like to get more staff with more portable equipment, “but we just can’t.” She said she’s been unable to find anyone else who is able to help out.
In order to run the clinics, Sandhu said, they need to pack up equipment and then take it all to Whalley.
Sandhu said before starting the clinics, they had to make sure they could actually provide the glasses. She said Clayton Heights Optometry has suppliers that donate frames.
“The people that we use in our clinic to get our glasses, some of them have been donating their (extra) frames. They give their frames to us for free so we’re able to do this.”
Jette said Hoya Labs supplies the lenses. Jette said Hoya is “basically doing all the lenses for free.”
The set up at NightShift allows for people to choose between multiple frames, Jette said.
“We’re kind of able to put almost a display together like you would see when you go to an optical store, so patients can sit there, they can try some out. Don’t get me wrong, choice is still limited because it’s not going to be the same experience, but we’re able to offer more than one frame,” she said.
In the first clinic, Jones said, he estimated about 45 to 50 people showed up for exams, and about 20 people were given exams. Since then, he said, there have been close to 100 exams with about 80 people actually receiving glasses in the past year.
“It’s an incredible experience to watch somebody who’s been homeless or hasn’t had glasses for, say, three to five years, and then they come in, they get their glasses, or they get their exam and then they leave, and when they come and put those glasses on for the first time, it’s very emotional,” Jones said.