A retired Trail optometrist is continuing his quest to improve vision care in developing countries.
Former optometrist David Kendrick is asking locals to dig out their old glasses and drop them off at Trail Vision Care Clinic in East Trail.
The used lenses will be cleaned, checked and labeled before they are brought down to Third World Eye Care Society headquarters in Vancouver at the end of the month and prepped for a trip to Nicaragua in November.
“The residents of Trail have been very good about bringing their old eyewear to Trail Vision Care Clinic and other collection sites,” said Kendrick.
“These old glasses can make a world of difference.”
Trail Vision Care has collected thousands of used glasses since Kendrick’s father (Jack Kendrick) started up the practice in 1949.
Though Kendrick took over the business in 1969, in 1995 he really saw how the donations impacted people in need with his first international project in Honduras.
He has now served as an optometrist on about 20 projects overseas, where he checks the health of eyes and determines appropriate prescriptions using basic hand-held tools in countries such as Brazil, Grenada, Jamaica, the Philippines and Mexico.
“Helping people see better is not, in a lot of cases, giving them perfect sight but improving their vision,” he said.
For years, Kendrick has been dedicated to working with the Third World Eye Care Society, a volunteer charity that began in 1995 with a $100 donation from Mount Pleasant Lions Club of Vancouver.
Founded by Dr. Marina Roma-March, the society continues to thrive with support from organizations like the Lions Club and Rotary International.
“From the beginning, Marina has made the Third World Eye Care Society a very successful volunteer organization that has helped tens of thousands of people in developing countries,” said Kendrick. “What I have done is so insignificant compared to what Marina and others have done, but I am very grateful to have had the opportunities to travel to different countries and do my best to help.”
To date, the society has restored vision to about 60,000 underprivileged people in the Third World.
“It has a huge impact because from a child’s perspective, for instance, there’s a lot of children we’ve met who haven’t been educated simply because they don’t have a pair of eye glasses,” explained Roma-March. “In terms of economic impact, people depend on making arts and crafts for tourists and selling them so without the proper tools things like putting the thread through the needle is really hard for them to continue those arts and crafts.”
Overseas, teams made up of about 15 members – which include eye surgeons, eye doctors, opticians and volunteers – set up a mobile clinic in a church, schoolhouse or a town square to match and distribute glasses to locals in need.
“The people there – almost any country we were in – will wait hours and sometimes over night to see us,” said Kendrick. “They’re very patient and they don’t get upset.”
Though he is no longer licensed as an optometrist since he retired nearly two years ago, Kendrick is considering attending the Nicaragua trip, where he would act as a general helper.
“Ever since the society started we couldn’t have done it without Dr. Kendrick because he was one of the first to have faith in me and went on the very first project to Manila,” said Roma-March. “I was a rookie then and he was willing to take a risk and go with me.”
Used glasses that are not damaged can be dropped off at Trail Vision Care, located at 1370 McQuarrie St. any time.
For more information about Third World Eye Society, visit www.twecs.ca