Collaboration provides Ethiopian olim with vision checks, glasses

Too often, the people who most need intervention have the least access to it.

February 16, 2016 04:39
1 minute read.
Ethiopian woman

AN ETHIOPIAN WOMAN undergoes a free vision test.. (photo credit: HADASSAH ACADEMIC COLLEGE)

Whole families of former immigrants from Ethiopia who have been living in the absorption center in Mevaseret Zion outside Jerusalem for three years have been treated to free vision tests – most for the first time in their lives – and given free eyeglasses.

A unique collaboration among the optometry department at Hadassah Academic College, Care Laser Clinics, Visionix (an Israel-based R&D branch of the global conglomerate Luneau), Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH, a US-based charity) made it possible.

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The second-most-common cause of vision impairment is uncorrected refractive error, something that can easily be detected and treated. In 2010, 65 percent of blind people and 76% of visually impaired people had a preventable or treatable condition.

These numbers highlight the role of optometry in public health. Unfortunately, too often the people who most need intervention have the least access to it.

The absorption center accommodates some 700 olim from Ethiopia. The majority of them have never had vision exams in their lives, said Prof. Ariela Gordon- Shaag, chairman of the optometry department at the college.

“The vision needs of this population will be assessed in a twostage process. In the first stage, the entire population will be screened this month for vision problems by certified optometrists who teach in my department and use the most advanced instrumentation available. Whoever ‘fails’ the screening stage will be invited back in March for a comprehensive eye exam.

VOSH has collected donations to cover the cost of eyeglasses for all residents who need them.” For example, all of the former immigrants above the age of 50 will be given reading glasses for the first time.

Last week, 10 volunteers from the department’s students and faculty and two from the industry screened almost 200 residents.

The rest of the residents will be screened on Tuesday and Sunday.

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